New ABA Book Says Americans Should Consider Email and Other Digital Assets in an Estate Plan
What does the password for your email account have to do with your estate plan? According to a new book, unless you have shared that password with your executor or agent, the information stored there “may be lost forever.”
“Living and Dying in a Digital World” is one chapter in the American Bar Association’s updated book Guide to Wills and Estates: Everything You Need to Know about Wills, Estates, Trusts and Taxes.
The book highlights the importance of “digital assets” in your estate plan and the importance of controlling access to that information. Some of those assets include blogs, pictures and online bank or brokerage account statements.
“Your email account right now may be the key asset in getting all of the other assets,” says Karin Prangley, the editor of the book and an attorney at Krasnow Saunders Cornblath Kaplan & Beninati LLP.
The fourth edition of the Guide to Wills and Estates is a user-friendly book that offers tips, checklists, a sample will and other information needed to properly plan an estate and make health care decisions.
Prangley adds that it is important to review your estate plan regularly.
“You could just change your mind,” Prangley says. “Friends and relations often come in and out of our lives, so it is important to visit your estate plan frequently to make sure that the people that are included in there to either receive your property or manage your property if something happens to you are still trusted people and loved people in your lives.”
As people live longer and suffer more chronic illnesses, it is also important to consider health care decisions in your estate planning.
Documents such as health care advance directives, living wills and durable health care powers of attorney offer the opportunity to consider in advance your views on life support and to make decisions on who will guide your medical care if you are unable to do so.
Issues related to same-sex marriage, elder abuse and religious beliefs are also addressed in the guide.
The book, published by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Public Education in partnership with Random House, is scheduled for release on Jan. 29.