Digital Assets Act Allows Access to Descendant’s Online Accounts
During your lifetime, you were an avid user of social media. You couldn’t resist the occasional tweet, Instagram shots, Snapchat bits, LinkedIn updates, and let’s not forget the family recipes and life moment alerts you so dutifully posted on Facebook. How many emails do you send or receive in a day? Each time you set up an account with one of the social media sites, you agreed to their terms and conditions related to account privacy. No one but you had the right to access the account. These are your own, personal digital assets. But, what happens when you pass away?
As people increasingly organize their lives online, their families and heirs may need to access their online accounts for a sense of closure, to recover photographs, or find information related to other assets belonging to the decedent. Access to an e-mail account may reveal a bank account or retirement account for which no physical documents exist. As paperless statements become commonplace, this is becoming the new normal. That is why being able to access your digital assets after your death is so important.
Digital assets cover a broad range of resources, including e-mail, social media accounts, documents stored in the cloud, and others.
Illinois has now passed a new law, known as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (“Digital Assets Act”), which defines and clarifies when and how digital asset custodians provide information and access to fiduciaries (executors, trustees, guardians and agents) acting on behalf of deceased or disabled users.
For Estate Planning purposes, keep a few points in mind:
- Make certain to address digital assets in your Estate Planning documents. All wills, trusts and powers of attorney for property should address access to digital assets in as much detail as possible. If you wish to deny access to emails or text messages after your death you may say so.
- Make a Digital Accounts Inventory. List all your accounts and assets, including the:
- Website domain name;
- Your user name;
- Your password;
- Security questions and responses;
- Any other identifying information that helps allow your successors to discover information
- Update Your Information Frequently. It makes no sense if you make a detailed list but continue to change passwords without also updating your account inventory. A simple spreadsheet can help. Be sure to protect the privacy and security of this spreadsheet to avoid a road map for identity theft.
To gain access to digital assets, fiduciaries must submit a written request to the provider. They must also provide a certified copy of the user’s death certificate, a certified copy of Letters of Office or a Court Order, and a copy of the will, trust or power of attorney granting the fiduciary access.
With over 30 years’ experience in helping individuals realize their estate planning goals, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the business environment. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us through our website.