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DuPage County estate planning attorneysAmericans store everything from selfies and family photos to digital music and stock photography online. What happens, though, when the content owner dies?

Sometimes nothing; family cannot access it and it either stays where it was stored or is eventually deleted or removed. Then there are situations in which the owner knew that digital content had to be handled differently than physical assets. In these cases, the content can be downloaded, transferred, or otherwise used and accessed by a named fiduciary. The following can help you learn more about digital fiduciaries, including why they are important and how you can name one to handle your digital assets after death.

What is a Digital Fiduciary?

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Illinois bill addresses digital assets, digital assets, Illinois Estate Planning LawyerA new bill has been introduced to the Illinois General Assembly that addresses what should be done with personal online accounts when a person passes away.

A deceased person's social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, email, as well as other online accounts, would all be considered physical assets and become part of a person's estate.

Senate Bill 1376 would allow the court to appoint a trustee who would then have access to the accounts in order to help settle a person's affairs. The bill currently has bipartisan support among Illinois lawmakers; however, there is opposition to the bill coming from tech companies who claim that the bill raises privacy issues.

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digital assets IMAGEWhen most people think of estate planning, they think of items such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, furniture, jewelry, etc. But what happens to a person's virtual property - or digital assets - when they die? An article in the Huffington Post discusses digital assets and what people should consider when planning their estate.

There are many items that fall under a person's digital assets, including:

  • Emails;
  • Social network accounts like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as all the content posted on these sites;
  • Digital photos and videos;
  • Songs;
  • Ebooks;
  • PayPal account.

According to a survey conducted by McAfee, the average internet user has about $37,000 in digital assets. Most of those assets are contained in unprotected digital devices.

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Posted on in Digital Estate Plan

Social media is still a fairly new phenomenon, but it has made its way into most everyone's lives. What happens, though, to all of those online profiles when the owner ceases to live and maintain the page?

That is answered with an even newer idea of a Social Media Will. Essentially, it is the same as a normal will, with a "trustee" who will be in charge of the belongings and other items listed in the will, in this case, all social media forums. This includes blogs, social media pages like Facebook and all email addresses.

Here are some steps from the Illinois state government on how to go about writing a social media will:

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Although a recent survey indicates that as many as 1/3 of Americans are using online estate planning tools or generic forms they have purchased, creating your own estate planning documents is tricky. Working with a lawyer is the only way to make sure that you have articulated your desires properly.

Not Doing Enough

One of the dangers in using a standard online approach to estate planning is that you simply won't create the kind of comprehensive plan you'll need if something happens to you. If you have any kind of unique aspect to your situation, like children with special needs, you're unlikely to find that the "one size fits all" approach to estate planning works for you. These online services tend to present the "bare bones" for your needs, which could mean missing out on critical documents or needs that you are not aware of until it's too late.

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