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Maryland estate plan should include digital assets

When creating an estate plan, a person should plan for everything a loved one may need. However, some assets are often overlooked. Maryland residents who are making an estate plan should include electronic devices and online accounts as well as physical assets.

Social media accounts, online bank/credit accounts and other online accounts, such as email and utility accounts, usually require a password to access, and those passwords will be needed after a person's incapacitation or death. If these digital accounts that require a password are not listed in the estate plan, they can be virtually impossible to open by surviving family members after the death of the main user. For example, if a man programs his cable account without sharing the password with his wife, she may not be able to make adjustments to the account or even make appointments for repairs.

Passwords are also important for debts. Most credit card companies require a password to check a balance or make a payment. Therefore, the executor of the estate needs that information to settle and close those accounts.

Also, many bank and credit accounts no longer send out a paper bill or statement. So the executor will need to have access to email accounts where paperless bills and statements are sent. Even accounts that a person considers unimportant should be considered in his or her estate plan.

A lot of digital planning happens during a person's life and should also be included in his or her estate plan. Attorneys in Maryland can help guide a person with his or her plans. These estate planning attorneys can also assist with documents such as living wills and powers-of-attorney.

Source: wealthmanagement.com, "Don't Forget Your Digital Accounts in Your Estate Plan", May 26, 2015

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