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Administering an estate? Don't forget digital details

If you are named as the administrator of an estate, you should be aware of the numerous tasks you will be required to manage and complete. Representatives are required to notify interested parties of a death, identify and locate assets and ensure they are distributed in accordance with the decedent's wishes.

Because there is so much to keep track of, it can be easy for certain details to fall through the tracks. For instance, digital accounts could be overlooked and ignored, to the financial, emotional and social detriment of the decedent's heirs and loved ones. Below are some tips to help estate administrators deal with these details.

Before a person passes away

The person creating a will oftentimes will inform the executor of his or her assigned role. If you learn that you will serve as the administrator of an estate, take the opportunity to understand the other person's wishes; talk to him or her about any digital assets and accounts and specify what should happen to these accounts. Make sure you and/or other necessary parties will have access to the necessary login information when the time comes.

If the person becomes incapacitated

At this point, those with financial powers of attorney will likely take over things like making online payments, dealing with sales transactions and managing bank accounts, all of which can usually be done digitally. As an executor, you may also need to do things like update people on Facebook, continue to check the person's email and secure his or her digital assets, including photos, music and e-books.

After the person passes away

At this point, closing digital accounts is necessary. This includes Paypal accounts, Etsy stores, eBay accounts, various utilities, streaming media accounts like Netflix and email. In some cases, these assets will be "left" to others to manage, so you need to ensure that transfer occurs. You may be named as the legacy contact for social media sites, which means you can continue to post on your loved one's page for various reasons if you choose. 

If you have questions

This can all be a lot to take in and manage. However, articles like this one in the Consumerist and the advice of an attorney can help you understand and fulfill your estate administration obligations.

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