It’s National Real Estate Planning Awareness Week, and financial experts say it’s more important than ever to get things in place with respect to your will in the digital age.
Craig Bolanos, Founder and CEO Wealth Management Group At Inverness and Downers Grove, we attended ABC7 to explain what digital real estate planning is and why we all need it.
We all know the importance of having a will, but real estate planning is more than just a financial asset. Experts say we also have to consider digital assets.
If your loved one dies and you don’t allow access to your account, you may need a court order just to find out how much money you have in your checking account or to access your photos on your mobile phone. Did you know that?
Digital assets can be various electronic records and files stored online, on mobile devices, or on personal computers and must be included in your digital real estate plan.
These assets include:
Many of us haven’t even thought about our digital estate, what is it and why is it important?
If you do almost anything online, you may have digital assets such as electronic records that you own, manage, or license. Failure to arrange those assets while you are alive can cause unnecessary costs, stress, and heartache for those you leave behind.
Online photo and video collections can be lost forever. Heirs may also be locked out of monetary electronic records such as cryptocurrencies and frequent flyer services. Alternatively, your email or social media account could be hacked. Even basic tasks such as paying invoices online or canceling an online subscription can be difficult or impossible without arrangements.
Where do you start and how do you plan?
Name your digital executor and make sure you keep your inventory and login information so you don’t lose your valuables or souvenirs. Unless they have access to your online account and email, there is no way for anyone to know how you will pay your invoice. You can also lose thousands of dollars in services you no longer use or need, just because you can’t access them.
What should people consider to facilitate the work of digital executors for those who have fulfilled that role?
In the past, your executor (who was entrusted with the settlement of your property after your death) probably owned and borrowed by examining the documents in your filing cabinet and your invoice. You should have understood what you are doing. It’s no longer the case.
Digital assets tend to be virtual in nature, so executors never find them in a home office search. It is important to leave some additional instructions on what you have created and how the executor will access it.
Google and Facebook are one of the few online providers that allow you to appoint someone to manage your account if you become incapacitated or die. Apple recently announced plans to add similar functionality. However, most online providers do not have this option. To complicate matters, almost all providers prohibit password sharing.
The first step in creating a plan for your digital assets is to create a list of them. Searching for “Digital Asset Inventory” will bring up several worksheets. It contains a detailed worksheet created by the trade organization Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), which allows you to list your accounts, usernames, and passwords as needed.
Don’t forget to include access to your device. If you have set up two-factor verification on your account to verify your identity (which you usually need to do), the executor will have a passcode to unlock the phone or other device that receives the verification code. You will need.
You can also leave an executor with instructions to convey your hopes for a variety of assets, such as those to be deleted, those to be archived, and those to be transferred to heirs.
Another option is to keep your login credentials in a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password. These tools usually have a “Notes” field where you can include details about how your account is handled. You must provide the executor with the master password. The master password can be included in the instructions.
I don’t want to include sensitive information such as passwords in my will as it will be disclosed after death. Instead, keep your inventory and instructions along with other real estate planning documents in a safe place, such as a lawyer or a safe at home, and let the executor know where they are. You can also upload information to online storage sites such as Everplans and LifeSite to allow trusted people to access your documents.
Check your inventory at least once a year and consider making any necessary updates. You will rest more easily because you know that your loved ones will not be locked out of your digital life.
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National Estate Planning Awareness Week: Financial experts explain why it’s important to keep things organized
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