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PayPal, iTunes, and Online Portals! Oh, My!

Hi Everyone,

Happy Wednesday!!! I wanted to say Happy Mother’s Day to all of you fabulous mothers out there. Hopefully you had the opportunity to take a break from life’s daily demands and celebrate. We hope your day was filled with rest, relaxation, and family!

This week we are talking about digital assets. I have mentioned before how we have an entire portfolio of digital assets that need managing once you die, but what do these digital assets encompass? Do they have value? What happens if your estate planning documents do not include your digital rights?

Here are some of the top overlooked digital assets:

1. Client Portals – Currently, more and more people are managing their financial and legal lives online. Many institutions, including financial advisors, CPAs, attorneys, and banks, allow you to upload all of your files to a client portal or cloud storage service. In today’s age, it’s likely that an entire online presence outlining your legal and financial future exists somewhere out there in cyberspace. 2. PayPal – PayPal accounts can hold large amounts of money. A recent article published by the Wall Street Journal reported on an estate planning attorney whose client died with nearly $30,000 in their PayPal account! As we move more towards digital money transfers it’s important to take these accounts into consideration and have an accurate inventory of all of these types of accounts in your name. 3. iTunes - Take a look at your iTunes library, each one of those songs typically represents $1.29. A couple thousand songs, a couple thousand dollars. It’s easy to accrue digital downloads such as songs, movies, games, and other types of media over a lifetime. All of those items have a monetary value and terms and conditions with the originating company as to how an estate can capture and transfer those assets. These items can be lost in someone’s estate just as easily as they were downloaded.

Without contemplating in your estate planning documents how your digital files are managed they may be lost forever. Even worse, you leave the potential for the accounts to be hacked and your identity stolen.

So what do you do? The key is leaving your Trustee or Personal Representative broad powers to manage your digital assets. Typically these powers include modifying, controlling, archiving, transferring, and deleting all digital assets. It’s also important to define where these assets are located including on your computer, other digital devices, and in the cloud. Have this type of language is very easy to include and yet tends to be commonly ignored.

So, do your estate planning documents contemplate your digital assets? Perhaps it’s time to bring your estate plan into the digital age.

Until next time, Amy

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