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Facebook releases new estate planning tool

When a loved one passes away, those who are left behind are often thrown into a tumultuous and difficult period of time. It is necessary to make the final arrangements that will allow friends and family to say goodbye, and there are often other immediate needs to be attended to, such as securing care for children and pets or addressing immediate financial concerns. After a period of time, many Philadelphia families move on to consider less urgent estate planning matters, such as how to access and preserve digital assets.

Digital assets are items of value that an individual creates and stores online. Examples include photos, video content and written pieces. While not all digital content has monetary value, a great deal of what we put out into the digital realm has significant emotional value to our loved ones. Having the ability to access these resources can be a challenge.

Facebook has announced a new tool aimed at giving families the ability to access the social media accounts of their lost loved ones. Users are now able to designate a "legacy contact" who will be authorized to manage the account when a user passes away. By listing a trusted friend or family member to handle this task, users can ensure that their digital assets are accessible.

When taking this step, it is important for Philadelphia residents to discuss the matter in depth with their chosen representative. The use of digital content should be covered, as well as how the person's Facebook page should be structured after he or she passes away. As with any estate planning tool, having a frank and open conversation is the best way to ensure that all parties are on the same page when it comes to what to expect at the time of death and can help ensure that one's wishes are carried out according to plan.

Source: kansascity.com, "Your financial planner: Estate planning for your digital assets", Alex Petrovic, July 8, 2015

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