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How to update an estate plan to include digital assets

| Feb 12, 2019 | Estate Planning |

As technology evolves, it is likely that individuals in Pennsylvania and throughout the country have digital assets. These assets could be anything from credit card reward points to a social media account. There are many reasons why they need to be accounted for in an estate plan. One reason is that accounts left open could be used by others to commit identity theft. Thieves may gather information from dormant or unprotected accounts to open credit cards or take other actions in another person’s name.

Failing to provide usernames or passwords to digital accounts may make it impossible to pay bills or access a bank or brokerage account. However, it can be difficult to determine how to share usernames or passwords. This is because there is no clear mechanism to do so without violating a Terms of Service Agreement (TOSA). While the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), its rules don’t always apply.

For instance, if an executive wasn’t given authority to access an account in a will, he or she likely couldn’t under RUFADAA either. This may be true even that executive has the authority to access other assets that don’t reside online. Individuals will also need to specify what should happen to an account within a will such as having it deleted or transferred to another person.

Creating a thorough estate plan before passing away may make it easier for others to follow through with a person’s final wishes. This may include deleting, transferring or taking other actions concerning an online asset. Furthermore, making use of trusts or beneficiary designations may make it easier to avoid probate. This may keep the details of an estate plan secret from creditors or other interested parties who aren’t beneficiaries.