How to Start a Digital Estate Plan: A Guide from a Hook Law Center Estate Planning Attorney

Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) May 8, 2014 – It is increasingly important for comprehensive estate plans to account for assets managed online.

“Traditionally, when someone died without a comprehensive estate plan in place, heirs could use paper records to piece everything together,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia Beach estate planning attorney. “But now, that is not always the case. Many people are opting to manage checking accounts, retirement accounts and investment accounts online. If those assets are not properly documented, it may be difficult for rightful heirs to gain access to them or even to become aware of their existence.”

Hook recommends consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure all assets are accounted for in a will or trust. But he also gave some simple steps that individuals can take to get started on their own.

When compiling sensitive information, be sure to protect it. Hook suggests physically hiding a USB flash drive, password-protecting the relevant drive and document or, preferably, both.

Identify assets. Include every account in which there are assets, regardless of whether there are current paper records – this may be changed in the future.

Gather access information. For financial accounts, access information includes websites, login IDs and passwords. Record an explanation of the locations of physical assets.

Understand transfer policies. Some companies facilitate the transfer of assets’ ownership to heirs better than others. Inquire about these policies, and if they are of concern, consider moving funds elsewhere. If the company allows named beneficiaries for individual accounts, take advantage of the option. It significantly reduces hassle.

Decide whether if anything needs to be destroyed. Perhaps there is private correspondence or diaries on a computer that should remain confidential until after death. If so, specify this in a will or trust what data is to be destroyed.

Spread the word. Tell a few key individuals – perhaps a spouse, children, executor or attorney – where to find personal digital estate plans and the password.

Keep it updated. When a new account is opened or a password is changed, update access information and records accordingly.

Learn more at http://www.hooklawcenter.com/

Hook Law Center
295 Bendix Road, Suite 170
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452-1294
Phone: 757-399-7506
Fax: 757-397-1267

SUFFOLK
5806 Harbour View Blvd.
Suite 203
Suffolk VA 23435
Phone: 757-399-7506
Fax: 757-397-1267
http://www.hooklawcenter.com/

  • What Are Pooled Special Needs Trusts?
    A special needs trust can be a crucial tool for many families to pass on assets to their special-needs children without jeopardizing the recipient’s eligibility for public benefits. Some families may be interested in “pooled special needs trusts,” which offer similar benefits with certain advantages, but families may be unsure of the pros and cons. […]
  • How to Prevent Identity Theft with Your Medicare ID Card
    A recent Reuters article highlights an identity security problem for U.S. seniors. Identification cards issued by Medicare contain instructions to carry the card with you at all times. But your card also contains your full social security number (SSN). Losing the card places you at risk of identity theft and fraudulent benefit claims. No government […]
  • First-party and third-party special needs trusts protect benefit eligibility
    Individuals with special needs often depend on government benefits in order to afford things that many of us take for granted — including health care, education, healthy food and a safe home. But when someone with special needs acquires significant assets for any reason, their eligibility for government benefits may be jeopardized. Special needs trusts […]
  • Elder advocacy group urges Congress to help seniors in 2014
    The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recently released a list of five recommendations for Congress to help American seniors in 2014. 1. Strengthen the Older Americans Act (OAA). The OAA provides funding for critical services for seniors living independently at home, including nutrition, disease prevention, transportation and caregiver support. NCOA claims that funding has not […]
  • Medicaid Rule Change Strengthens Home- and Community-Based Care
    Millions of low- and fixed-income Americans depend on Medicaid for health care. Many are fortunate enough to receive that care in their homes or at nearby facilities. Unfortunately, some have no choice but to receive treatment in nursing homes and in other institutional settings that may be nowhere near their homes, friends and family. Such […]