How to Start a Digital Estate Plan: A Guide from a Hook Law Center Estate Planning Attorney
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) May 8, 2014 – It is increasingly important for comprehensive estate plans to account for assets managed online.
“Traditionally, when someone died without a comprehensive estate plan in place, heirs could use paper records to piece everything together,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia Beach estate planning attorney. “But now, that is not always the case. Many people are opting to manage checking accounts, retirement accounts and investment accounts online. If those assets are not properly documented, it may be difficult for rightful heirs to gain access to them or even to become aware of their existence.”
Hook recommends consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure all assets are accounted for in a will or trust. But he also gave some simple steps that individuals can take to get started on their own.
When compiling sensitive information, be sure to protect it. Hook suggests physically hiding a USB flash drive, password-protecting the relevant drive and document or, preferably, both.
Identify assets. Include every account in which there are assets, regardless of whether there are current paper records – this may be changed in the future.
Gather access information. For financial accounts, access information includes websites, login IDs and passwords. Record an explanation of the locations of physical assets.
Understand transfer policies. Some companies facilitate the transfer of assets' ownership to heirs better than others. Inquire about these policies, and if they are of concern, consider moving funds elsewhere. If the company allows named beneficiaries for individual accounts, take advantage of the option. It significantly reduces hassle.
Decide whether if anything needs to be destroyed. Perhaps there is private correspondence or diaries on a computer that should remain confidential until after death. If so, specify this in a will or trust what data is to be destroyed.
Spread the word. Tell a few key individuals – perhaps a spouse, children, executor or attorney – where to find personal digital estate plans and the password.
Keep it updated. When a new account is opened or a password is changed, update access information and records accordingly.
Hook Law Center
295 Bendix Road, Suite 170
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452-1294
5806 Harbour View Blvd.
Suffolk VA 23435
- Strategies to make sure your retirement savings last
Americans are living longer than ever before, and for many people, Social Security retirement benefits represent only part of the income they wish to have in retirement. The average American life expectancy is about 79 years, and millions will live to be much older. The average life expectancy for a person who reaches age 65 […]
- How divorce affects retirement planning
Older people are getting divorced more frequently than ever before. Divorce can be a significant roadblock for retirement planning and financial security. Although divorcing earlier in life can have a minimal impact on retirement, divorcing after the age of 50 can have huge implications. Couples who are getting divorced should collect information about all of […]
- Choosing between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage
Deciding what type of health insurance to get can be a daunting task for seniors. Medicare is highly regarded and very popular, but Medicare Advantage differs in ways that could be advantageous to some. Original Medicare includes Medicare Part A (hospital expenses) and Part B (other health care such as doctor’s office visits). The monthly […]
- How to appeal a Medicare denial
If you were denied coverage or payment by Medicare, you have the option of filing an appeal. The denial must be from Medicare, your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan or your Medicare health plan. It is within your right to file an appeal if you were denied any of the following: A health care service, prescription […]
- Defining common terms in Virginia estate planning
Estate planning is a complex process, and typically involves learning some new terms and concepts. Some of the most important estate planning terms to understand include: Advance medical directive – A document that details a person’s health care wishes in case they become incapacitated. An advance medical directive also allows the individual to name someone […]