Our assets include much more than our physical possessions. Many of us have social media accounts, email accounts, online financial accounts and other digital assets. You may have given much thought on who will inherit your physical possessions upon your death, but have you considered who will be able to access your digital assets upon your death?
The Uniform Fiduciary Access to the Digital Assets Act
It used to be the case that digital service companies made their own rules on how a person’s account could be accessed once they pass away. Often, the deceased’s survivors would not be able to access the deceased’s online accounts either under their terms of services or on the argument that federal law prohibited it for privacy reasons.
The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act changed things. Under the Act, the executor of the deceased’s estate is permitted to manage the deceased’s online assets unless the deceased’s will contains language stating that they want someone other than the executor to access these assets.
The Act does not apply to all digital assets. Specifically, personal rather than financial assets may fall outside of the scope of the Act. The deceased’s will, power of attorney or other estate planning documents should grant a specified person the permission to access digital assets not covered by the Act.
How to allocate who has access to your digital assets
Things can be made easier for all involved if you designate a person in your will who has access to manage your digital accounts once you pass away. Express permission makes things clear, and without it, it could take your executor a long time to settle your estate.
Some people name one person or more than one person who can access their digital assets. For example, they may designate one person to handle their financial accounts and another person to handle their personal accounts.
You have options to make sure the person accessing your digital assets upon your death is of your choosing. Moreover, designating this person in your estate plan can make things easier for the executor of your estate to perform their duties.