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Estate planning on paper in the digital age

Many people have multiple online accounts -- bank accounts, social media, emails -- and attempt to keep the passwords completely private. However, in the case of an unexpected death, family members will be completely locked out of these accounts. Where paper bills would once have come through the mail, followed by late notices, paperless bill pay would be sending these alerts to the email of the deceased with no one to be aware of it. A few weeks ago, we blogged about digital assets in the form of iTunes accounts or e-libraries, which are important details to include in the estate planning process. However, the ability to pay bills and ensure that beneficiaries are able to access all of the data they may need.

Firstly, set up a secure but accessible solution for storing passwords. This can be a challenge as we are often forced to update passwords for security, however, there are online password storage services, which would allow the beneficiary to only need to commit one password to memory in order to access the collection.

The use of 'the cloud' can also be beneficial in these cases. Most people have a cloud account whether or not they realize it, be it through Apple, Amazon or Google. Backing up important documents, photos and information to these storage devices can also help the beneficiaries to have simple access to your information.

All of these details, including the payment of bills, can be included in the estate planning process with an attorney to ensure that all details are legally taken care of. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help to prevent issues like these ones from taking place, and may help you to find issues like these that many people may not have thought of.

Source: Forbes.com, "You Just Locked Out Your Executor And Made Your Estate Planning A Monumental Hassle," Nancy Anderson, Oct. 18, 2012

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