What happens to a person’s digital assets after he or she dies? One family had to fight Yahoo for the right to access their deceased son’s emails that he wrote while in the military. The case took a year to resolve although the family ultimately won the right to access those messages. Fortunately, a new piece of legislation called the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act may codify who has access to an individual’s digital content after he or she passes.
It gives trustees of a trust, a conservator of a living person, personal representatives of the deceased or anyone who has power of attorney over a tangible asset would have the same access to digital assets. However, if there are any instructions to keep a certain piece of information private, the fiduciaries are required to keep that information private. The act was passed in Seattle on July 16 and is expected to finalized in fall 2014.
As part estate planning best practices, it may be worthwhile to determine the terms of service of major social media and Internet sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo. This will make it easier to ensure that an individual has obtained the proper documentation to have digital information released to authorized parties upon his or her death.
As technology evolves and more of what people say and do are being documented digitally, it becomes important to account for how those creations will be treated upon a person’s death. Talking to an estate planning attorney may be able to help an individual create a plan for how social media updates, tweets or emails may be used by future generations. An estate planning attorney may be able to help create documents that specify how digital content is to be used after a person passes on.
Source: Flip The Media, “I’ll Tweet When I’m Dead: Estate Planning in the Digital Age“, Connie Rock , July 28, 2014