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Estate Planning for Digital Assets

Traditionally, estate planning focuses on the physical assets possessed by an individual. These often include a house, family heirlooms, classic cars, personal effects and money. However, as the Internet continues to present opportunities for individuals to share their lives, the amount of digital assets we possess online has grown as well.

Today, it is not uncommon to have any number of profiles out on the web, from Facebook to Yelp. In addition to community profiles, one might be sharing images on Flickr or Picasa. Add to this personal blogs, micro-blogs, information management networks, online dating sites and more.

Some individuals may just have a few of these. Some may have all. What happens to these properties if that person passes away? Last week, Forbes personal finance writer Liz Davidson covered the issue of digital assets and estate planning.

The first step, says Davidson, is to figure just what you have floating around out there. For chronic joiners, this could be a lot of digging through old confirmation e-mails. If it is easier, it might be okay to simply focus on the frequently used services.

Don't forget to check on old, unused e-mail addresses. If you have still got a once-frequented, but forgotten AOL account out there, it might be a good idea to make sure there's nothing you want and then delete it. Find someone you trust to delete other assets following your passing, if that is what you want done with them.

For example, would you still want your Facebook page up and running?

For the online assets that you want preserved, what would you like to do with them? For example, do you have a popular blog which generates a fair amount of income via ad buys? If so, you may want to include it in your estate plan. Perhaps you would like to pass it on to your blog's managing editor, instead of a family member.

Including directives such as these in your estate plan can help ensure that all your assets are accounted for and end up exactly where you want them.

Related Resource

  •  How To Pass On Digital Assets After You're Gone

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