Jason powers up his laptop shortly after waking every morning. He checks email and news sites while drinking his morning latte. Then, it is time to review his investment accounts and make sure that direct deposit hit his checking account. Finally, Jason may pay a couple of bills while listening to his favorite playlist on the music streaming site he prefers. Jason didn’t really think about the digital assets he was interacting with or what would happen to those assets if he was no longer there.
In days gone by, most of us would have kept written records, maintained our own book and music libraries, and physically visited the bank. Now, we conduct much of our business from the privacy of our homes, behind the protection of passwords and usernames. This wall of digital privacy could spell trouble for your family if something happens to you.
Digital Asset Law
In July 2017, Virginia adopted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (the Digital Assets Act).
According to the Digital Assets Act, a digital asset is an electronic record in which the individual has a right or interest. Virginia residents can now give their personal representative or agent the authority to manage some digital assets. Other assets, like email and social media accounts, are still restricted unless the asset owner specifically states that access is allowed. As the owner, you can also limit your personal representative’s authority.
But how can your personal representative access your accounts if they don’t know where they are?
That’s why you need to prepare a digital assets inventory. We’ll get you started:
Your inventory should include:
Hardware – the name, serial number, location, and logon information.
Software – the name of the program, where it is saved, and login information.
Websites (owned) – location (URL), hosting company if any, administrator logon information.
Financial and Investment Accounts – name of the institution, address for the website, user name, password or PIN, and answers to any security questions.
Benefit Accounts (loyalty programs, frequent buyer/flyer programs) – name and type of account, user name, password and/or PIN number.
Email Accounts – the provider (Gmail, Yahoo!, etc.), email address/user name, password.
Online Retail Accounts – retailer’s name (Walmart, Nordstrom’s), web address, user name, password, answers to any security questions, and other pertinent information.
Memberships – name and type of membership, user name, password, and any other information your personal representative might need to know about the account and how you want it to be handled.
Collections (photographs, music, books, videos) – name of the website, user name, password, and what you would like your personal representative to do with the collections.
News and Magazine Accounts – name of publication, website address, user name, and password.
Social Media Accounts – type of account, address for account, user name(s) and passwords. (Note: check your social media account settings. You may be able to name who can take over your social media account.)
Cryptocurrency Accounts – name of site and type of account, account owner, web address, user name, password, and security answers.
For some accounts, like social media and email, you might leave instructions for your personal representative to leave a short message stating why you will no longer be online.
Keep Your Inventory Safe!
Sound scary to list all your digital information in one place? It is. Keep it with your other important documents – like your estate plan.
Don’t have a plan yet? The lawyers at Dillon Law Group, PLC, provide individualized advice to help our clients develop an estate plan that fits. Give us a call at 757-962-4796 or use our convenient Contact Form. We assist clients in the Virginia Beach and Newport News areas.