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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Considering BitCoin, Facebook, Paypal, E-Mail, and other Digital Assets in Estate Planning

It is estimated that three-fourths of all adults who use the internet are on Facebook (roughly 58% of the population in the United States).  Only a small fraction of those people have made arrangements for what happens to their Facebook profile after they die.  Some people may not be concerned with how, or if, their Facebook profile lives on after they die, but what about other digital assets?

In today's world, many people have digital currency, such as an account with PayPal.  Many people have stored Amazon gift cards that can amass hundreds of dollars.  Unless someone gains access to your password after you die (and hopefully that someone is someone you would want to have access to your password), this money can be lost in cyberspace and not passed on to your loved ones. 

Additionally, Many people have amassed BitCoins (for those who don't know what a BitCoin is, it is defined as a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank).  In today's market, over one hundred thousand merchants and vendors accept BitCoin as payment and even some employees are paid in BitCoin.  BitCoin does not currently have a method of retrieving a lost password, so unless your loved ones have access to your password, they will be out of luck when you die.

Many people have digital assets that they have not considered when estate planning. Additionally, approximately 86.5% of the population in the United States utilizes e-mail.  Similarly to Facebook, if you do not specify what happens to your e-mail account(s) when you pass away, access may be lost forever.

There are several ways to handle these new areas of estate planning, including adding password information into your will.  Simply identifying where you have online accounts can be an important step in making sure your legacy and your property passes to your loved ones.  Contact an estate planning attorney to discuss these issues and make sure your future is protected.   

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