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Estate planning evolves in the digital age

Do you sometimes think back a few years and simply marvel at how technology has advanced and changes the world?

Characters in old sitcoms carting around cellphones that are 10 times bigger than offerings today seem hilarious. Computers years ago were massive, heavy and inordinately expensive things. Today's counterparts cost a fraction of what they used to, deliver the world with a mouse click and sometimes weigh only ounces. Virtually (no pun intended) everything that relates to technology is now faster, smaller, lighter, sleeker and far more mobile.

For many individuals and families, important estate planning-related considerations have also evolved over time because of technology.

A recent media article focuses upon one such important consideration, namely, the requirement for increasingly more estate plans to take account of so-called "digital assets."

Your digital assets can range widely, from what is valuable and proprietary data contained in various online accounts (your bank, Twitter, email, Facebook and so forth) to intellectual property contained online and media delivered in a digital format like mp3s, ebooks, digital photography, and apps. They may have clear financial value or sentimental value important to a family's legacy.

Those digital assets need to be located, described and taken account of in estate planning documents like a Will or Trust in the same way that tangible assets -- realty, jewelry, automobiles, art, heirlooms -- are dealt with.

The 21st century is decidedly different from what preceded it. Many millions -- if not billions -- of people have avidly embraced technology and it actively figures in all levels of their personal lives.

Sound estate planning will take like in the digtal age into consideration. A proven estate planning attorney can answer questions and provide additional information.

Source: Wall St. Cheat Sheet, "Estate planning 101: Don't forget about your digital assets," Eric McWhinnie, May 19, 2014

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