Think about your Digital Estate

When we prepare our will or trust, or when we are called upon to distribute the assets of a loved one who has passed away,  we think about the physical and financial property.  Many people prepare an attachment to their wills that describes who they would like to receive their jewelry and special household or personal items such as artwork and family heirlooms.  We might also prepare a list of all of our bank accounts, brokerage accounts, stocks and other financial assets.  If called upon to settle the estate of a loved one, we know we should look through a wallet or the mail to identify all of their credit cards, and we know how to check with the county recorder to see if there is a mortgage on any property. 

Now that we are well into the 21st century, we need to think about our digital estates, as well.   Photos, which would have been in albums (or shoeboxes) in years past  may now be stored only on our computers, or possibly on websites such as “Shutterfly.”  In addition to our Visa card, we may also have a paypal account, and, if we sell items (for example on E-bay) as well as purchase with it, there may be a positive balance.  If someone is called upon to run our business, the books may only appear on QuickBooks, or even in a “cloud” accounting program.  How will somoeone know whether you have any of these items, and wherer to look for them if you do?  Will they know your passwords so they can get into them? 

Phoenix, Arizona Attorney Rex Anderson has developed the Digital Asset Questionnaire to help you document your Digital Estate and provide guidance to those who may have to access it, whether an emergency should come up when you are out of town, or after you have died.   This inventory of your digital property is just as important to your estate planning as identifying your life insurance beneficiaries or the personal representative of your will.

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