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So, what happens with all of my digital information?
Where we once had to actually take a trip to the bank or brokerage firm to access our funds, we can now take care of much of our financial management with a click of a button. Likewise, where our collections of movies, music, photos and personal correspondence used to be kept in racks, stacks and photo albums, much of this personal property is now accessible online.
While this new age of accessibility has made life much easier, it can create huge headaches for family dealing with a family member’s estate.
Even for those who have had the foresight to create a traditional estate plan, a lack of access to assets and correspondence maintained online can create major roadblocks to carrying out such plans, and prevent your loved ones from paying bills, accessing funds or enjoying mementos.
In order to avoid these digital estate issues, it is a good idea to create a list of all your online accounts, user IDs, and passwords. Then, communicate where this list is with a trusted family member. This information can then be accessed should you become incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly.
It is also a good idea to have a clear understanding of what happens to your online accounts after you pass or become incapacitated. This can be done by carefully reading the privacy policies of the websites where you maintain online accounts, or contacting the companies directly with questions and concerns.
Do not be blinded by the convenience of the new digital world. What is an efficient means to manage your household today can create a tangled web for your loved ones in the future.