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Steps to protect a digital estate

Minnesota readers might be interested to know about a part of estate planning that many people do not consider frequently. Social media and a person's internet presence has become very important, and certain difficulties might arise if a person does not consider provisions regarding those accounts during estate planning. There have been many cases where people have died unexpectedly and their families have been denied access to their email, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Digital estate planning can help prevent some painful situations. One case involves the family of a soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. His father wanted access to his Yahoo email account. However, Yahoo refused the man access due to its privacy policies, and it took a year of legal battles before the probate court ordered Yahoo to turn the contents of his account over to the family.

This is an emerging area of the law, but there are steps that can be taken to make sure loved ones do not have to fight with ISPs or social media sites. The easiest way to handle the digital part of an estate is to inventory all the accounts with the passwords and appoint someone as a digital executor. The individual might then outline how the executor should handle the accounts.

Careful planning is essential when dealing with digital assets because the laws are subject to change as governments attempt to catch up with modern realities. Those who have concerns regarding digital assets or other estate planning issues might choose to work with an attorney.

Source: Flip the Midia, "I’ll Tweet When I’m Dead: Estate Planning in the Digital Age", Connie Rock, July 28, 2014

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Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates

Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates LLC
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