Recent Hilbrich Blog Entries

Estate Planning for the Digital Age

Common estate planning tools such as wills and trusts have long been used as a means of transferring your property upon your death. But what happens to your online accounts and other valuable digital property? The rise of social media, internet banking, and other online industries are raising new questions regarding what to do with all of those accounts after a person dies. Indiana is one of just five states to have adopted a “Digital Estate” law, which provides for the handling of electronically stored documents of a deceased individual. The law essentially states that the custodian of such documents is any person who stores the information or documents of another person electronically. The law also states that a custodian of electronically stored documents must provide those documents to the representative of an estate upon the representative’s request and receipt of a death certificate. One challenge arising out of the Digital Estate law is what happens if a representative is unaware that such documents exist. In that case, a decedent risks having his or her accounts and other potentially valuable digital property forgotten and lost in their entirety. Another difficulty in dealing with electronically stored property is that most websites and online accounts are password protected. The best way to address these challenges is to specifically mention your online accounts and other valuable digital property in a written instrument attached to your estate planning documents. Leaving specific directions to your personal representative on what your wishes are for your blogs, social media pages, online bill pay, or other revenue generating accounts along with web addresses, usernames, and passwords is the most advisable method of disposing digital property. As technology continues to advance and the internet becomes a more prevalent part of everyday life, the issues of passing on digital property will become even more important. So whether your property is physical or digital, large or small, an estate planning attorney can help you create the best plan for ensuring your property and your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone. For a free consultation with our top estate planning attorneys, call 877-877-LAW2 (5292) or 219-924-2427.

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