In today’s world, a great deal of business is done online. Most Washington companies are no exception to this fact and offer ways for a customer to go paperless. Many people receive electronic statements in lieu of receipts, have auto payments taken out of their bank accounts, and pay their bills online. This convenience can, ironically, make it very inconvenient for trustees and family members after a person has died. It is an often overlooked aspect of estate planning.
When someone passes away, it can be difficult for his or her loved ones to access his or her online accounts. Unless he or she has left instructions on how to get into these accounts and the passwords to do so, it is almost impossible. That person’s loved ones will have no idea what bills are due, what has been paid or any other information related to those online accounts.
The purpose of estate planning is to make things as simple as possible for those who are already grieving. In order to do this, one must also make their online accounts available to those who will be in charge of handling the finances once that person is gone. This includes much more than simply writing your passwords down in a safe place. Many states have made it possible for a loved one to be granted limited access to accounts when someone dies.
Each state has different laws pertaining to digital assets in estate planning. Laws regarding the subject were added in Washington in 2015. An experienced estate planning lawyer can advise his or her clients on the current laws of the state and how to make sure that access is given to trusted loved ones after a death.
Source: kiplinger.com, “Digital Assets Need to Be a Part of Your Estate Plan“, John M. Goralka, Accessed on June 23, 2017
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