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21st-century estate planning: Don't forget the online assets

Sometimes it is important to closely consider whose interests are being promoted in an estate plan.

It is obvious, for starters, that the individual or couple engaged in thinking about and implementing a sound and purposeful estate plan are promoting objectives that fully promote their goals. Quite often, those centrally involve asset preservation, gifting and charitable contributions aligned with deeply held personal views and legal tax avoidance. They might also involve health care considerations, special needs and additional concerns.

And, yes, of course, the benefits of many estate plans are intended to be bestowed upon heirs and other loved ones in the future. Owing to that, the distribution of property is a routine concern of many estate planners.

Given that oft-held focus on future generations, it is certainly important for any planner in California or elsewhere to work closely together with a savvy and proven estate planning attorney to identify and properly account for all of a life’s hard-earned assets.

These days, that includes so-called “digital assets,’ which can range widely from online financial accounts and social networking profiles/pages to email accounts and online photo albums.

Family members can of course inherit such assets -- if they can find them.

As noted in a recent media article on the subject, doing so can be tricky and sometimes impossible in the absence of a planner’s careful inventory, storage and legal communications concerning such property.

An experienced estate planning attorney will always consider such assets and encourage a client to think about them and centrally include them in an estate plan.

In this constantly evolving high-tech world, that focus can be immensely important.

Source: CNBC, "Protect online assets with a digital estate plan," Thomas Henske, May 19, 2014

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