Digital Asset Management in Estate Planning
In the realm of estate planning in New York State, a crucial but often overlooked aspect is the management of digital assets. As we delve deeper into the digital age, it's imperative to understand the legal implications and strategies for incorporating digital assets into your estate plan.
Understanding Digital Assets
Digital assets encompass a wide range of online accounts and properties, including social media profiles, emails, digital currencies like Bitcoin, and online intellectual properties. With the average American spending a significant portion of their life online, these assets can hold both financial and sentimental value.
Legal Framework: RUFADAA in New York
New York State has adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), which allows fiduciaries to manage digital assets. Under RUFADAA, fiduciaries can access, control, or copy digital assets, but only if the original user consented in a will, trust, power of attorney, or other record.
Cataloging Digital Assets
The first step in managing digital assets is to catalog them. This list should include all online accounts, digital files, and computer hardware that might be relevant. The catalog should also specify how to access these assets, including passwords and security questions, keeping in mind the legalities of sharing such information.
Incorporating Digital Assets in Estate Plans
When creating a will or trust, it's vital to explicitly include digital assets. This might involve appointing a digital executor – someone who is tech-savvy and trusted to handle digital assets. Clear instructions on how these assets should be managed, transferred, or deleted after death are essential.
The management of digital assets can significantly impact estate administration. For example, access to online banking and investment accounts can streamline the process, while a lack of access to social media accounts can complicate the handling of a decedent’s online presence.
The importance of incorporating digital asset management into your estate planning cannot be overstated. As technology evolves, so should our approach to estate planning, ensuring all assets, digital or otherwise, are accounted for and managed according to your wishes. Call us at 516-570-4016 to discuss your planning.