Last year, a comprehensive law was proposed by the National Conference on Uniform State Laws. That law places access to a wide range of digital assets on a par with access to traditional tangible assets.
“As the number of digital assets held by the average person increases, questions surrounding the disposition of these assets upon the individual’s death or incapacity are becoming more common. Few laws exist on the rights of fiduciaries over digital assets. Few holders of digital assets and accounts consider the fate of their online presences once they are no longer able to manage their assets.”
Nearly half of U.S. state introduced legislation in 2015 to enact this revised Uniform Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA). However, most of them have been unable to actually pass the law due to opposition from Internet and telecommunications companies. As of March 2016, only four state have enacted legislation based on this Act – Oregon, Wyoming, Tennessee and Florida.
Are you concerned about who will have access to your digital assets when you become incapacitated or die? Do you care whether family members can see your emails and other personal electronic correspondence? Would you prefer that loved ones can continue to maintain your Facebook account or do you want it shut down? These are just a few of the questions that the revised UFADAA may be able to address…only if your state adopts appropriate legislation.
For more information about digital assets, check out our book ACCESS DENIED or go to our website www.DieSmart.com.
Oregon became the first state to adopt the revised Uniform fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act when Governor Kate Brown signed it into law on March 3, 2016. It will become effective on January 1, 2017.
The revised act is designed to ensure that account holders can retail control of their digital property and can plan for its disposition after their death. It also helps avoid circumstances where online service providers delete deceased’s accounts without authorization or refuse to hand over access and information to permitted fiduciaries.
Will your state be next?
For more information about the revised UFADAA, go to www.diesmart.com.
In most cases, the answer is no. When a person’s estate is being settled thru the will they prepared, it is usually public record. To keep estate plans secret, they need to be contained in a trust document, not just a will.
However, in the case of Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, an exception has been made. A probate judge in Alabama where she died signed an order for the will to be sealed after a request from attorneys for Miss Lee’s personal representative. Her family agreed to the request.
She died in February 2016 at the age of 89 and had always been a person who highly valued her privacy.
The release if the ruling from the judge came after there was a “threat of public intrusion and harassment for Lee’s heirs”.
You are probably not a famous author and will not be granted an exception by a probate judge. Therefore, you need to carefully consider whether it is important to you to keep your estate plans within your family or whether it’s okay for them to be public record.
Regardless of what you decide, go to our website www.diesmart.com to get helpful tips about estate planning and other things related to end of life matters.
You may guess it’s the password to your online bank account, to Facebook or to a shopping site. Those are all important but there’s one that it’s critical you share with a loved one. It’s the password to your email account.
Why is this so important? When you die, your loved one or executor will try to access all of your online accounts so that they can close them down or, if necessary, continue their use. For example, they may want to shut down your account on Amazon since you won’t be doing any more shopping. Or, if you pay your utility bills online, they may want to continue to pay them until they sell your home.
You may use the same login information and password for all of your accounts but chances are that you have several different ones. However, most of the accounts have a system that will enable a user to recover a forgotten login or password. The user just needs to know how to access the email account linked to that other site so he or she can recover the information when it is sent out.
Although it is not strictly legal for you to share your password and login information, it is the easiest way to ensure that when you’re gone, your executor will be able to easily access your information and settle your estate.
For more information about digital estates and the steps you should take to be sure you have included them in your planning process, check out our book “Access Denied ” or go to our site www.diesmart.com.
Even though more than 50% of US citizens still don’t have a will, you’d think that the presidents of the United States, with all of their legal advisors and staff, would definitely have protected their property by preparing one.
Not true – Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, William Garfield and Ulysses S. Grant did not!
Two presidents who did leave wills freed slaves in them. George Washington left his entire estate to his wife Martha. He requested that, upon her death, all of their 317 slaves should receive their freedom.
Thomas Jefferson actually freed some of his slaves in his will – 3 older men who worked for him for decades and two of Sally Heming’s four children.
Most other presidents left fairly standard wills, leaving their assets to family members, though a few left special bequests.
Richard Nixon bequeathed his personal diaries to the Richard Nixon Library and Thomas Jefferson gave his friend and former president James Madison his gold-mounted walking staff.
Regardless of what presidents have or have not done, you should definitely consider getting a will prepared today. Otherwise, the government will decide what happens to your assets, not you.
For more information about wills and other end-of-life planning, go the www.diesmart.com.