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Pocatello Estate Planning and Your Digital Assest

Our world has evolved into one our ancestors would never recognize. Just within the last 2 decades, the internet became commonly used by most people, which again changed the landscape of how we live our lives. Our Pocatello Estate Planning Attorneys know that when we complete an estate plan it includes all asses, both tangible and intangible. Digital assets, including our online “accounts”, for e-mail, and social media as well as online banking and money accounts are also part of our estate when we die. However, many types of digital assets bring a new complexity to estate planning.

Our team of Estate Planning attorneys in Pocatello are on the cutting edge of talking about and helping clients plan for and deal with digital assets in their estate planning. Our partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley form an award winning team of attorneys in Pocatello who can help you with all of your assets, including digital assets.

Many of the laws in Idaho as with most states, have not kept up with the rapid pace of technology. Despite some complexities that can arise, the process that applies to managing digital assets is the same as handling tangible assets. Here are 3 things you can do to protect the digital assets you may have.

1. Prepare a List of Your Accounts (Handwritten)

The first practical thing you can to do protect your digital assets is to create a handwritten list of all of your digital accounts. This includes social media, e-mail, financial accounts and retirement accounts. Why does this need to be handwritten? Computers are hacked every day by criminals looking protected information they can then use for identify theft. Don’t make the job easy for a hacker by having a list of your accounts, usernames and passwords digitally saved on your computer. Having a digital record of these items simply puts you at a higher risk that these items can be stolen from you.

On the other hand, a handwritten list of these accounts and information is really important. It’s likely that your family does not know whether you have a PayPal account or not. If they don’t know then they will not be able to access it if you die.

Your handwritten account list should not be attached to your Last Will and Testament. or other estate planning documents. The main reason for this is that these documents will likely be filed with a court and become part of the court record that can be accessed by the public. The better thing to do is to leave written instructions about where your account list is and how to access it.

Your e-mail account will likely be vital for your family to access. This is true because you likely receive regular e-mails from your various accounts concerning account activity. Your family may need to access your e-mail after your death as a means of learning about and accessing your other digital assets.

2. Naming a Backup Person

The second thing you can do to protect your digital assets is to follow the directions for each digital account you have. Many companies allow the account holder to name another person who has the right of access to the account. If this is possible, do it. An example of this is Google. It allows an “inactive account manager” to be named. Some social mediate accounts like Facebook also allow users to name another person as a “legacy contact” to allow access to those accounts when they are inactive.

Further, if you have online banking accounts you should be able to name specific beneficiaries who can access both your account and your monies after you die. You should be able to review your account agreement at any time so you can see if you can name a beneficiary. At the very least, as is set forth above, you can provide your loved ones with a copy of your handwritten account list.

3. Leave Specific Instructions

The final thing you can do to assist your family in dealing with your digital assets is to know that your Pocatello estate planning documents to provide specific instructions to your family about your digital assets. For example, your written Durable Power of Attorney can contain language that superficially allows your fiduciary to access and manage your digital assets for you while you are alive. You can also use your written Last Will and Testament to provide your personal representative with this same power which can be used after you die.

Laws dealing with and involving digital assets are quickly evolving. However, they have not kept up with the digital age. You can compensate for this by following the steps listed above. When you do you will know that all of your assets, including your digital assets, are protected and that your Pocatello estate plan will work to pass these assets on to your loved ones.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

If you own any digital assets, our Pocatello Estate Planning attorneys can help you protect them and pass them on to your loved ones. We are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email us directly at racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems.

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