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Estate planning for your digital accounts and assets

Did you know that the social media site Facebook offers users the option to designate a legacy contact? Essentially, a legacy contact is granted access to the user's account after he or she has died. This contact may then post to the user's timeline, update pictures and respond to certain requests on behalf of the user's account. Does this arrangement strike you as silly, odd or brilliant?

The simple fact is that more Americans are conducting social and professional business on social media sites. Individuals may have numerous social media and digital accounts which they access for any number of social, creative, business and practical purposes. When account users pass away, the information stored on these accounts may be treated in a number of different ways.

The digital aspect of estate planning is still in its infancy. Not many estate planning attorneys have had to navigate this particular issue over the course of their careers. However, as digital assets such as social media accounts and intellectual property stored on the Cloud are increasingly common, so will be estate planning provisions designed to protect them.

If you have questions about protecting your digital assets in the event of death or incapacitation, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney. An attorney will be able to guide you through your legal options both initially and as this area of law continues to evolve. After all, estate planning is meant to be a living process, just as many digital assets are meant to evolve over time as well.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Include digital assets in estate planning," Nedra Rhone, Feb. 17, 2015

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