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Digital assets should be included in Texas estate planning

Understandably, most people do not want to discuss their own death. However, death is unavoidable, and surviving Texas family members stand to benefit more when estate plans are in place. Since the internet is a very powerful tool, most people have social media accounts and online bank accounts. Apart from tangible property such as homes and jewelry, it’s also important to include digital assets in estate planning.

A research firm released a survey that reveals that over 50 percent of individuals do online banking. Another 32 percent of individuals use their cell phones for online banking. With the internet being a primary storage unit for a lot of information, digital assets have financial value to loved ones. Since these digital assets hold value, it’s vital for this to be included in estate planning documents. Individuals will need to locate the digital assets and take inventory.

Once these assets are located, it’s important to include email accounts, bank accounts and passwords. Digital assets may have challenges with privacy laws and encryption. Grantors may not want some of their information revealed to family, and they may include this information in their estate plans. Digital assets can also include social media sites such as Facebook, which may have some form of emotional value to surviving family members.

One of the biggest estate planning mistakes is not having an estate plan in the first place. This can present future challenges in the event of a death and force Texas family members into the probate process. Becoming knowledgeable about estate planning techniques and having appropriate guidance may help distribute assets to intended family members and decrease the chances of unnecessary burdens.

Source: wallstcheatsheet.com, "Estate Planning 101: Don't Forget About Your Digital Assets", Eric Mcwhinnie, May 19, 2014

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