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Michigan estate planning should consider electronic assets

Technology has allowed individuals in Michigan and elsewhere to handle many transactions electronically, from banking to tracking frequent flyer miles to downloading and storing music. Therefore, it is important for anyone in the process of estate planning to include these types of assets. In this day and age, passing down digital assets is not just limited to documenting the passwords of online banking and investment accounts.

Assets such as online music and photo libraries, PayPal and Bitcoin accounts, gaming profiles and reward miles may have significant value. Estate planners with assets of this nature have some options when it comes to passing them down. One option is to include a document in the estate plan that lists all the passwords to these accounts and names an individual who is allowed access to them.

Keeping online copies of estate planning documents can also be very beneficial. This allows individuals to log in and view the documents from anywhere instead of worrying about having hard copies of the estate plan. Having this kind of access could prove useful in specific situations. For example, if a husband and wife are traveling together and one of them becomes incapacitated, the other can access the online documents to prove that he or she is legally authorized to make medical decisions.

Including electronic assets in an estate plan can be challenging, as the law often cannot change quickly enough to accommodate new technologies. Regardless, even Michigan residents with the most basic estate planning needs may benefit from seeking legal assistance. Doing so may help ensure that all of the estate planner's assets are accounted for and that his or her wishes are clear.

Source: Dayton Business Journal, Estate planning should include digital assets, Dayton expert says, Olivia Barrow, Nov. 27, 2013

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