Authors: Audrea Kappert, Director, Trust Services & Jeff Weeks, Sr. Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer
The majority of us like all things new and digital these days. There are the various rewards programs, the round ups for investing, subscription sites for clothes or beauty supplies, subscription sites for the dog, document storage, phone back up storage, recipes and social media. The list goes on and on. However, have you ever considered what would happen to these accounts when you pass away?
It’s a difficult topic and it may be uncomfortable to consider. But much like having a will or estate plan, you need to consider how to pass your digital assets to your beneficiaries. When most people hear “digital assets” they assume we’re talking about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. However, digital assets are more than that. Your digital assets are things like:
While some digital providers have their own policies regarding what happens to your accounts in the event of incapacity or death, others may not. If you can take simple steps to prevent legal proceedings, why not take those steps now to save your loved ones the additional stress?
Below are some common social media networks and their policies on how accounts are handled in the event of the user’s death.
But what about other providers? What if they don’t have policies to address the assets they store? When there are no provider policies to rely on, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) can provide some guidance. The Act distinguishes four different types of fiduciaries and their authority to access the digital assets. If no one has been designated as a fiduciary, family members or friends may also seek access, but those efforts are subject to other laws, as they wouldn’t be covered under RUFADAA.
Additionally, the scope of RUFADAA is limited by the definition of “digital assets.” The act applies only to electronic records in which an individual has a property right or interest, but it does not include the underlying asset or liability unless it is itself an electronic record. What that means is the term “digital asset” expressly excludes underlying assets such as funds held in an online bank account. So, for example, just because the fiduciary can gain access to the online Starbucks account, it does not entitle them to the prepaid funds held in that account. The term “digital assets” does include, however, types of electronic records such as information stored on a user’s computer and other digital devices, content uploaded onto websites and rights in digital property.
We’re just scratching the surface of the information in RUFADAA, so if you’d like to read the Act in its entirety, you can find it by clicking here.
So where should you start? Below are some simple steps you should take to prepare your digital assets for your loved ones.
Just like planning for your physical assets, by taking steps to plan for your digital assets you will be making an already difficult time a little easier to navigate for your loved ones.