Digital estate planning is a responsible way to ensure that your online presence and assets, such as email accounts, social media profiles, online funds, and images, are properly managed if you die or become disabled. This safeguards your digital legacy while alleviating the burden on your loved ones during a difficult time.
Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act
In digital estate planning, understanding your state's laws is essential because they play a significant role in managing your digital assets once you've passed away. States like New York, recognizing the increasing importance of our online lives, are adapting their legal framework to accommodate these changes.
New York's Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) allows designated fiduciaries, such as executors and trustees, to access and oversee the digital assets of individuals who are no longer able to manage these assets themselves, either due to passing away or incapacitation. RUFADAA ensures that digital assets, including online accounts, email communications, social media profiles, and other online assets, are handled according to the individual's wishes. Additionally, it puts in place measures to protect the account holder's privacy and security.
Digital Estate Planning
When integrating digital assets into your estate plan, there are several important legal aspects to consider:
- Have the Right Documents: Your will and trust are the legal foundation for ensuring a smooth transition of your digital assets to your chosen beneficiaries, similar to how they handle physical possessions and financial assets.
- Appoint a Digital Executor or Trustee: A digital executor, also known as a "digital fiduciary," plays a critical role in managing your digital assets according to your wishes if you cannot do so. The person you select should be both technologically competent and highly trustworthy, as they will need to navigate online platforms, passwords, and terms of service agreements while ensuring that your digital legacy is managed as you wish.
- Identify and Catalog Your Digital Assets: Maintaining a comprehensive catalog of your digital assets, which covers everything from email accounts and social media profiles to online finances, photos, videos, cryptocurrencies, and domain names, is crucial for guiding your chosen executor in managing your online presence after you're gone. Include login details, passwords, and specific instructions for each asset. Regularly updating this catalog is essential due to the ever-changing digital landscape.
- Beware of Service Agreements: Be aware of the terms of service agreements on various online platforms and understand how they impact the transfer or access to your digital assets. These agreements can influence how your digital assets are handled, so being informed about them is essential in your digital estate planning.
The online world keeps changing, and your digital plan should change with it. Regularly reviewing and updating your plan to accommodate shifts in your online presence is a thoughtful and responsible act toward your family and heirs. If you need assistance drafting a will, trust, or digital estate plan, our experienced attorneys are ready to provide the guidance and support you need.