Digital assets include electronic investment or bank accounts, emails, documents and photographs stored in the cloud, social media accounts, online medical records, and so on. It is illegal for anyone to access your accounts without your permission even if they have your password and are acting as your fiduciary. Upon death or incapacitation, these accounts may be closed and the information lost forever or the accounts may be left open and subject to identity thieves.
Your fiduciary (Personal Representative, Conservator, or Agent) will need access to these assets to fulfill their duties in caring for you or your estate, yet digital assets have historically not been included in estate planning documents. Legislation allowing fiduciaries to legally access and manage online assets has been adopted at the Federal level, yet each state must pass their own and most states, including Colorado, haven’t, due to privacy concerns.
What can you do to ensure that your fiduciary can legally access and manage your digital assets?
- Ask your estate planning attorney to include your digital assets in your plan.
- Maintain an updated list of user names and passwords for all your digital assets and devices including computers and phones. Provide a copy to your appointed fiduciary.