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Technology can complicate estate administration

The "good old days" of sorting through desk drawers and filing cabinets for important papers seem to be reaching an end. Technology makes it possible for much of a Georgia resident's life to be created, managed and stored online. This may make things easier during life, but after death, it could complicate estate administration.

It may still take a sheet or two of paper to make an estate easier to administer in the digital age. Accounts, usernames and passwords should be written down somewhere for family members to find in the event of death. For Georgia residents who are now in the unenviable position of wrapping up a departed loved one's estate, it could be easy to miss something important when it comes to estate administration.

Many people neglect to provide this information in their last wills and testaments, however. Unless a family member or executor already knows the extent of a decedent's online presence, it may quickly become a challenge to locate and deal with all online accounts. Perhaps the decedent left instructions regarding online financial accounts, but not social media accounts. This means that the executor or personal representative of the estate may need to obtain court orders or other information in order to access these accounts.

Privacy during life is essential in order to protect online accounts. However, after death, it can be a logistical nightmare for surviving loved ones. For those who are now attempting to gain access to the online accounts of a deceased love one, it may be beneficial to seek out the advice and assistance of an attorney who understands these and the other challenges involved in estate administration.

Source: Reuters, "Plan ahead in your will for your virtual self", Chris Taylor, Feb. 8, 2018

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