As Fiduciary Financial Planners we create financial plans with our client’s individual needs and best interest in mind. Today we also have a growing responsibility to not only protect and grow their portfolio but to also educate and ensure they have a plan in place to manage and protect their digital assets.
Virtual assets may or may not have financial value, but many may have emotional meaning. Think of all the social media and networking accounts we use to communicate with the world. If these are left open; posts, photos, and comments will continue unless someone has the authorization to close the account. So, what would we like our loved ones to do should we leave this world?
Online financial accounts that have monetary value may be hard for a family member to access or even locate, and many of these accounts may be left untouched. Today numerous financial statements are delivered digitally, and no longer do we have a paper trail to follow – so unless you left your logins and passcodes, they might be virtually impossible to locate. However, this can be remedied by addressing digital property information and directives in your estate plan. Do not list login or passwords in a will; this document becomes public upon death. Store this type of inventory in a secure location such as a bank safe deposit or a fireproof safe.
Many states have recently adopted versions of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA). Under RUFADAA, an owner of the digital property can give fiduciaries access to and disposition to manage digital assets. Fiduciaries designated in an estate plan will have the ability to access digital assets and to collect and distribute digital property to the same extent as financial property.
Some states will allow a trustworthy and competent “digital executor” in their will. This executor will have the responsibility of following the wishes of the deceased. If your state does not recognize a digital executor, you need to consult with your estate attorney and find a similar function that can be carried out in accordance with the law.
Whether you give this job to a fiduciary in your estate plan or name a trusted digital executor, it’s strongly advised that you put a plan in place today and protect your digital legacy. Even if you leave your login and passwords in a secure location and give a trusted love one direction and access, this would be better than no plan at all.