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Digital assets and the estate planning process

When it comes to the estate planning process, many of our Texas readers understand the importance of focusing on assets such as real estate, cars, bank accounts, retirement accounts, jewelry and other tangible assets.

While these are important items to include in any estate plan, more people than ever are beginning to realize the benefits associated with digital assets. These can include but are not limited to email accounts, domain names, social media accounts, PayPal accounts, Bitcoin accounts, documents stored online and online bank accounts.

There is a lot that goes into creating a sound estate plan, and even when people do their best to make the right decisions, they often overlook the value of digital assets.

McAfee is one of the largest security technology companies in the country, and in a 2011 survey, it found that the Americans valued digital assets at approximately $55,000. With that much money attached to such valuables, it only makes sense for people to begin adding these to their estate plan.

Those who have digital assets that are not included in an estate plan need to consider that their heirs may not know they exist. Subsequently, the asset could be lost forever.

To protect against future trouble, all digital assets should be included in a trust or will, deciding what will happen to the assets upon your death. In other words, these should be treated in the same manner as the rest of your valuables.

There used to be a time when digital assets did not factor into the estate planning process, but those days have come and gone.

Source: USA Today, "Estate plan should pass down digital heirlooms" Sue Doerfler, Apr. 17, 2014

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