As technology advances, so does society. Often, these changes include many areas of life which Maryland residents may not traditionally consider technology, such as estate planning. Because so many accounts and so much information is stored on the Internet, if an estate plan does not adequately cover online material, then the executor or power of attorney may face serious challenges.
When someone becomes incapacitated from an illness or passes away, it will be up to their power of attorney or executor to handle their healthcare and financial responsibilities. This can be challenging in today's digital age when so many accounts are paperless. Passwords or other authorization may be required in order to access accounts or make payments.
When the power of attorney or executor does not have access to this information, or is completely unaware that such accounts exist due to paperless billing, debts may unknowingly result in defaults. The solution, some suggest, is careful planning for today's digital age. One way to do this is by documenting all accounts and corresponding passwords and storing this information in a secure location.
In addition, individuals who have an online presence such as social media should consider their accounts and how they would like them to be handled in the event of incapacitation or death. Some families may choose to set up social media accounts as memorials, while others may opt for deleting the account. Whichever method is chosen, there may be restrictions to what is allowed without password and confidential information.
During the estate planning process, many people in Maryland may not consider their digital presence. To ensure that one's wishes are detailed and upheld, it may benefit those in the planning process to ensure that their power of attorney and executor know how to retrieve important information regarding online material. When the right system is in place, individuals can rest assured that their estate plan is comprehensive and will protect their assets and family.
Source: Forbes, "You Just Locked Out Your Executor And Made Your Estate Planning A Monumental Hassle," Nancy Anderson, Oct. 18, 2012