Coughlin & Gerhart LLP

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Wills and trusts need to keep up with technological advances

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2019 | Wills

Many people in New York and across the country are moving most of their assets into digital storage. Business interests, financial assets, marketing materials and even photo albums are transferred online. This creates new challenges to ensure digitized assets, which could also include cryptocurrency, are included in wills, trusts and other estate planning documents.

While some digital assets have significant monetary value, others are primarily sentimental. Online photos and emails between loved ones could have considerable sentimental value for surviving family members. In some cases, one person takes charge of emails and bills related to family finances, often without any other family member knowing the different passwords and additional information to get access. If that person dies, services may be disrupted due to unpaid bills, along with other consequences typically associated with nonpayment.

New laws are continually being developed to keep up with rapidly advancing technology, and addressing digitized assets in estate planning could be challenging. Passwords typically protect online accounts, and most people agree to the terms and conditions without reading them. These usually make accounts nontransferable upon the owner’s death, and without legal counsel, these accounts might remain in limbo forever.

Managing digitized assets and ensuring their transfer to heirs in an organized manner could be daunting without the support and guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney. A New York lawyer can assist with the process of bringing wills, trusts and other documents up to date to incorporate digitized assets. A lawyer could also safeguard passwords and other confidential information to be made available to appointed individuals upon the client’s death.


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