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New Jersey estate planning: What to do with digital assets

As technology advances, more and more of people's lives are conducted online. Some banks no longer have physical locations, and nearly everyone around the country and in New Jersey has some sort of social media account. There is an increasing movement to make sure these digital assets are included in the estate planning process.

There may not be a lot of money in a loved one's Facebook account, but it still needs to be dealt with after death. The content of a person's Facebook page could be of sentimental value such as photos and posts about that person's life. The same could be said about someone's online music or book collection.

It is also possible that there could be some digital assets that are worth money. Blogs, domain names and Web page advertisements could be of some monetary value. Without some sort of listing of all of a person's assets, family members may not know they exist. In order to create a comprehensive list of a person's digital assets, it is recommended that person ask him or herself what digital information would be lost if a computer, tablet or smartphone was lost or stolen. The answers to that question are what need to be included in a list of digital assets.

Once this list is made, it may be incorporated into the estate planning process. Unless the designated executor of a person's estate is not tech savvy, there is no reason to name a separate person to handle the digital estate. As with any other type of assets, a New Jersey estate plan should instruct the executor on who gets what digital assets and how they can be accessed.

Source: news.morningstar.com, Do You Have a Plan for Your Digital 'Estate'?, Christine Benz, Oct. 3, 2013

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