» Estate Planning Should Include Digital Assets, Says Attorney with Gilfix & LaPoll

Estate Planning Should Include Digital Assets, Says Attorney with Gilfix & LaPoll

Palo Alto, CA (Law Firm Newswire) December 23, 2013 – A prominent estate planning attorney says digital assets need to be considered as part of estate planning.

“In today's world, many people own significant assets that exist only in digital form, whether it is currency such as Bitcoin or items of sentimental value such as family photos,” said Palo Alto estate planning attorney Michael Gilfix. “There needs to be a plan to pass these assets on to one's heirs.”

Gilfix said that online assets may also include such items as PayPal accounts, frequent flyer miles, iTunes libraries, online gaming accounts and many others. Any system for storing value electronically has the capacity to store significant assets that should rightfully be passed down to one's heirs. However, without a plan in place, their value could be lost.

Each provider of online services has its own policy for access to user accounts. Some states have passed laws that grant the executors of an estate access to online accounts. Of course, access to the accounts is often simply a matter of knowing the basic account information, including the relevant passwords.

According to Gilfix, people engaged in estate planning should make a list of their digital assets, just as they take stock of their traditional assets. The list should include instructions for accessing the accounts, including usernames, passwords and a description of what is contained there. The list should be stored in a safe place, where the executor or personal representative of one's estate will be able to find it (but an unauthorized person will not). The list may be kept with one's attorney or in a safe deposit box. It can also be kept on an online data storage service; some specific services have been created for this very purpose.

In addition to username and password access, one's executor or personal representative needs legal authority to use the accounts. Possessing the password to an online bank account does not mean that an executor can or should issue any payments. Estate planning documents, such as a will, and any trusts or durable power of attorney documents will dictate who has the authority to deal with online accounts.

Facebook: Like Us!

  • Three mistakes parents of special needs children should avoid
    Parents of special needs children hope to provide their offspring with financial security and the care they need. However, even with the best of intentions they risk making mistakes that could have costly, long-term consequences for their child. One such estate planning mistake involves disinheriting the child to ensure their eligibility for key government benefits […]
  • National Gilfix & La Poll Article on Multigeneration Strategies and “New Economy” Services
    At Gilfix & La Poll, we take pride in innovating new ways to serve our estate planning clients. We recently published an article in Estate Planning magazine covering two ways in which we build beneficial relationships with our clients that address modern, timely issues. The first is helping clients take advantage of “new economy” services. […]
  • Study reveals misconceptions about long term care costs
    Planning ahead for long term care and how to fund it can seem daunting. The average American underestimates in-home care costs by nearly 50 percent, according to the Genworth Financial 2016 Cost of Care Study. The findings indicate many adults risk being unprepared for their future needs. The cost of receiving care has continued to […]
  • How fear of death can present a hurdle to retirement planning
    A new study has found that many people fail to make necessary decisions about the future because they are too scared to think about death. According to researchers from Boston College in Massachusetts, fear of death causes individuals to avoid preparing financially for old age. The anxiety can affect choices about managing savings for retirement, […]
  • The difference between conservatorship and guardianship in California
    Every individual hopes to live an independent life in which they are able manage their own affairs. However, mental or physical incapacity may leave a person unable to make informed decisions for themselves. In such cases, conservatorship and guardianship are legal tools that can be used to help protect an adult or child’s wellbeing. Both […]

See other news sources publishing this article. BETA | Tags: , , , , ,



Get headlines from Law Firm Newswire sent right to your inbox.

* indicates required