Virginia’s Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act empowered agents and personal representatives across the state. In the past, it was difficult for personal representatives to access a testator’s digital information if the testator died or became incapacitated. That authority, however, only goes so far. If your personal representative if unable to find your digital assets and information, their hands are tied. To help them do their jobs – which in turn helps you and your heirs – prepare a digital assets inventory as part of your estate planning. Include the following three types of information in your inventory.
the Digital Asset
|How to Access
the Digital Asset
|What to Do with
the Digital Asset
|Financial Accounts. List the names of financial institutions, insurance companies, and any other place you have an account open. Include credit cards, online loans, investment companies, etc.||Typical login information includes user name and password. Include answers to security questions and pins – anything your personal representative might need to access your digital asset.||Provide instructions to your personal representative.
Financial accounts may become part of your estate asset, unless you have provided another way for them to payout.
|Email Accounts. List email accounts. If you use email for a specific purpose, include that also.||Include login information.||Decide how you want your email accounts to be handled. Do you want them to remain active and be monitored for a time? Or do you want the accounts shut down?|
|Social Media. List which social media sites you use. Include the name used on the account.||Include login information.||Similar to email accounts, you’ll need to state what you want your personal representative to do with your social media.|
|Websites. If you’ve set up any websites, whether for business or personal reasons, list their domain names. Include information about companies assisting with web hosting or website maintenance.||Include administrator information or login info.||Decide whether you want the websites to continue if you are no longer able to work them.
Include information about recurring fees, like annual domain name costs and recurring web hosting fees.
|Stored Data. Do you have documents, photos, music, or any other digital material saved online, on your computer, or on flash drives? List where the information is located so your representative can find them.||Include appropriate login information.||Do you want your stored data saved, given to anyone, or destroyed? Leave the instructions here.|
|Misc. If you have any online accounts that don’t fit into the above categories, include them here.||Include access information.||Provide instructions for handling anything that fits under this category.|
Please note: you can refer to digital assets in your Will, but never include personal information or logon information. During probate, your Will becomes a public record.
You may be concerned about where to store your digital assets inventory. Good. You should be. Store your inventory in a secure location with your other important papers, like your Will. You may also leave it with estate planning attorney. However, don’t just hide it without telling anyone where it is. At least one person should know where the inventory is and what to do with it.
Some Final Thoughts.
When it comes to some digital assets, you are the user. The person or entity that stores or manages your digital assets is the custodian. Some custodians offer an online tool that allows users to state who can access their accounts and for what purpose. The online election overrides a user’s Will, power of attorney, or other estate planning document.
While preparing your estate plan, take a few moments to consider your digital assets. If you pass away or become incapacitated, your family needs to know how to deal with your digital assets.
Contact the attorneys at the Dillon Law Group to discuss your estate plan. Please call us at 757-962-4796 to set up an appointment or contact us online by using our convenient Contact Form. We assist clients in Virginia Beach, Newport News, and surrounding communities.