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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

Q: What is considered “property” for estate planning purposes?

New York and New Jersey estate planning attorneys know how difficult it is for clients to make an appointment to have their last will and testament prepared. One common reason is that nobody likes to think about dying. Another is that some folks are overwhelmed at the thought of gathering and listing all of their assets and debts.

The stark reality is that we will all die one day, but those of us with estate plans will leave our loved ones in the most secure position possible. Planning for incapacity is also important as many of us will become disabled by accident or illness at some point in our lives. Finding an approachable and affordable estate planning attorney to get your affairs in order will bring great peace of mind.

In addition to making that first step by setting up an appointment, you will need to gather information and documentation about all of your property, assets, debts, and liabilities.

Debts and liabilities are pretty easy to list –they are the things that keep us awake at night–and include mortgages, student loans, car loans, credit card debt, medical debt and more. But, what kind of property and assets do you have? Chances are you have more than you realize.

The first thing most people think about is their home and bank accounts. These items may be held individually or jointly with other people– and the distinction is important. There’s also pensions and retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries named to receive the proceeds. (Now is a good time to review those beneficiary forms and be sure you still want the beneficiary you named before.) You may have stock portfolios, cars, jewelry, collections, and any number of items with both real and sentimental value.

But many people don’t realize and consequently overlook the value of their digital assets. Many digital assets exist with today’s technology obsession and can be identified by thinking of all the accounts and items you have that require a user name, password, login, and/or URL to access.

What are some digital assets?

In an effort to create an inventory of your digital assets you should consider your digital devices (like smartphones, iPads, and computers). Digital assets include but are not limited to:

  • social media accounts;
  • websites, domains, or blogs;
  • photo sharing or storage accounts;
  • revenue-generating accounts like airline and other loyalty reward accounts, websites or blogs with affiliate links and more.

Compiling a list of all of these items including the username, login, and current password information for each is important. Keeping the list updated periodically– especially regarding password changes– is also important. Deciding who you would want to be responsible for maintaining or closing these accounts is also important. Your wishes and the particular types of digital assets you may have are a part of your estate planning process.

Contact Our New York or New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you need assistance with an initial estate plan, or would like to modify an existing one, the estate planning experts at Merlino & Gonzalez can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

With offices in Staten Island, New York and East Brunswick, New Jersey, we represent clients in both states in all aspects of estate planning and estate administration as well as commercial and real estate law.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.