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Make sure someone is caring for the digital footprints you leave behind

Millennials spend 1,128 hours on the internet annually. And each day millennials – anyone born between 1980 and 2000 – download on-demand videos, purchase music, and send and receive emails accumulating to about three hours a day, every day. But what becomes of those records when the unexpected happens? There's no predicting the future, but you certainly can plan for it.

“We provide a digital asset worksheet with every estate plan that asks for any digital assets a client owns, and ask them to keep it in a safe place in the event [of an emergency],” Kira Doyle told The Suit Magazine.

Building a strong relationship with an estate attorney is essential to safeguarding the digital legacy you leave behind. Finding an estate attorney can be difficult, not to mention expensive, but connecting with one is the first step toward developing a digital legacy plan. And while the millennial crowd might wish there was an app for this, experts agree that it’s a complex issue to tackle without professional help.

“A lot of these do it yourself [programs] are not state specific and have hidden administrative fees,” explained Kira B. Doyle, founder of Kira Doyle Law based in St. Petersbug, Florida.

A do it yourself program also may not be properly handling your assets, and may put a damper on your digital legacy. Doyle deals extensively on estate planning, probate, business, and real estate law. She believes people are not implementing the right techniques to protect their estates.

The increasing prevalence of digital currency highlights the need for an attorney who knows how cash works in cyberspace. Digital storage—now relied on for crucial documents by many—also presents unique legal challenges, Doyle said. Doyle takes data safety seriously; attorneys at her firm hand new clients a personal USB drive to securely store their digital copies of their documents. They also provides guidance in making sure these files are cared for after the client dies.

Most problems regarding digital assets could be avoided with careful planning. Financial advisors, insurance agents and estate attorneys today must ensure that the right steps are in place to access digital assets in the event a client—due to illness, mental inability, or death—no longer can.

“We focus on clients who are looking to build a lifelong relationship with their attorney,” Doyle told The Suit Magazine.

Additionally, she was named a partner at the award-winning Flagship Title, a company formed by highly skilled real estate and legal industry professionals to ensure real estate closings go smoothly without jeopardizing one's rights.

“Something I’m proud of in my firm, and a strong believer and huge proponent in, is providing clients with their own tools, and all the education they need to properly fund their trust,” Doyle said.

It might be that one day estates are made up mainly of digital files and pieces of data, but these assets are not any less important than property or cash. A good estate planner is essential to keeping digital assets in the right hands after a client passes. It’s time for millennials to consider whether their rapidly accumulating digital assets are safe; and if not what to do about it.

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