Berman & Asbel, LLP

Online information is part of estate planning

Life in a high-tech age can be complicated. It can have ramifications that may not pop up until after a person's death. Savvy Pennsylvania residents know it's important to provide their heirs or attorney with access to online accounts. With so much personal business being conducted through the Internet, having access to online accounts can be crucial to settling an estate.

Part of a person's estate planning activities should be to make a list of online accounts, including the URL addresses, account numbers, log-in names, a description of what the account is about, and passwords and personal identification numbers. This information can be provided for bank and financial information, email accounts, online storage accounts, including those used for pictures and records, and contact information. If a person's computer is password-protected, the password also should be listed.

Once this information is compiled, one of the best places to keep it is a personal safe. People should make sure that someone else has its key or combination. A safety deposit box is not necessarily the best place for this information or any documents that are needed to probate a will. This is because some banks will not allow access to a safety deposit box unless a court order has been issued. Online password storage services are not a good option because websites can be hacked.

Just like a will, this online information should be updated periodically as passwords change and new accounts added. A properly planned estate can lessen probate issues as well as inheritance issues. People who need help with this aspect of their estate planning may wish to contact an attorney who may be able to advise on how best to make sure their last wishes are honored.

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