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Digital estate planning: don't forget to leave your passwords

Good estate planning often comes down to the details and the backup plan. If things don't go exactly the way they were supposed to, what should the next step be? And what about that small antique coin collection or those government savings bonds that you forgot to include? Details and a backup plan can help make sure that loved ones know what your wishes were and aren't left to fight it out with the court system to come to a resolution.

The same can be said for providing for your digital assets and making sure your named executor has access to the information and technology that they will need to do the job. Passwords for email accounts, online bill paying accounts, and other parts of your digital realm become very important as a part of settling your affairs.

While this information is obviously highly sensitive and access shouldn't fall into the wrong hands, it's equally important that someone somewhere be given access. For example, if you are the primary bill-payer in your household and you become ill or incapacitated, it's important that someone else have access to instructions on how to keep the bills up to date. If everything is on a paperless system, make sure that information and how to access it is available to a friend or family member.

Like other estate planning concerns, these issues are often best discussed with a trusted advisor who can help create a workable contingency plan. Our Texas law firm assists clients with a variety of estate planning services. More information can be found on our website.

Source: Forbes.com, "You Just Locked Out Your Executor And Made Your Estate Planning A Monumental Hassle," Nancy Anderson, Oct. 18, 2012.

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