Nowadays, almost all of us have some kind of social media account, online banking profile, or us a cloud-based system to store data and conduct various forms of business. Just like any other asset in our estate, we need to create a plan that allows a trusted friend or family member to take over these accounts after we pass away and ensure that our final wishes are carried out.
Fortunately, New York state laws understand the changing times and make estate planning for digital assets much easier than it was in years past. New York is one of several states which passed the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA). As with the remainder of our estates, the law allows individuals to appoint an executor to manage digital assets upon the death of the testator.
Under the RUFADAA, electronic communications are considered digital assets that require strong privacy protections because they are often private correspondence between one persona and another. To give access to these sensitive communications, testators need to give explicit permission, even for seemingly harmless social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter.
However, even with explicit access to digital assets, it may still be extremely time consuming contacting each and every company and going through the process to gain entry into accounts. To help expedite the process, testators should compile a list of their usernames and passwords to hand off to the estate’s executor when the time comes. Afterall, the executor of the estate has numerous other important responsibilities to carry out and will need to concentrate most of their time on those duties.
In addition to providing login information, testators should create a document detailing instructions on how to access each account and what to do with the information contained in each profile. This can include archiving, downloading, or even deleting the account altogether upon passing away. Furthermore, the information contained in the document should be kept up to date in case any new accounts are created or modified.
Make sure to keep the document in a safe place with your other important papers like a copy of the will and any healthcare directives, or insurance information. By having a plan, creating the necessary authorization, and giving clear instructions to the executor of your estate, you can ensure your final wishes are carried out the way you would have wanted.