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How to account for digital assets in an estate plan

Estate planning is important for those who live in Wisconsin or anywhere else in the country. These days, it can also be a good idea to include digital assets in such a plan in addition to physical and more traditional assets, like a home or car. By including the passwords to social media accounts or other online properties, individuals can prevent their grieving families from having to find and gain access to them.

Individuals should be sure to take an inventory of any phones, computers or other mobile devices that require a password to access. Instructions should also be left as to how a flash drive or digital currency account can be accessed. Once those items have been inventoried, it is time to decide who will receive or oversee them. In some cases, adding an executor for digital assets can make it easier to distribute or manage them.

Facebook offers a legacy contact option while Google offers an inactive account manager tool to help survivors access their deceased loved ones' accounts. Google allows data to either be destroyed after up to 18 months or for it to be accessed by up to 10 people. Leaving the username and password to a person's primary email account can make it easier for those left behind to find this information for other accounts.

Using wills and trusts in addition to beneficiary designations may make it easier to craft an estate plan that meets a person's needs. A will or trust may contain language as to who receives a digital asset or how the data should be handled. If assets are distributed through a beneficiary designation or specific title, they pass to the named beneficiary immediately after an individual passes. This is generally true regardless of what a will says.

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