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Estate administration and computer-accessed accounts

Computers are now a part of everyday life. Rather than write out checks to pay bills, most Pennsylvania residents simply login online, view their paperless statement and make a payment via the internet. There is no longer an easily found paper trail of accounts the individual has and how they are handled. While this online activity is convenient for both the company and the individual, it can become an estate administration problem upon the death of the individual.

Without statements arriving in the mail or laying on the table waiting to be paid, it is possible that family members are unaware of what bills are outstanding. Since many bank accounts are now paperless, access to checks used to pay any bills may be limited. In order to make things easier for others upon one's death, it is important that the individual be proactive and make plans for access to his or her digital assets prior to the need becoming apparent.

Perhaps one of the first things that should be done is to create a list of all online accounts. This list should include login information and passwords. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, it will need to be kept in a secure location. Upon the death of the individual, this information can then be used to take care of any outstanding debts, gain knowledge regarding the individual's assets and even manage social media accounts.

Computers have simplified many aspects of daily life for Pennsylvania residents; however, they have also complicated many others. They are convenient for managing day-to-day finances. Still, they can prove to be a challenge when it comes to estate administration if the proper information is not readily available.

Source: kiplinger.com, "Put Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan", John M. Goralka, June 15, 2017

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