Do you struggle to keep up with the latest technology? Just when you started to understand the internet, social media, smartphones and smart-whatever showed up. Are you ready for AI—artificial intelligence—or VR—virtual reality—the next big technology that is just around the corner? And what comes after that?
If you thought you could get away from all of this by dying, think again! Whether you are a technophobe or embrace the most current technology, when you pass away, someone still has to handle your “digital assets.”
Digital asset is a new term used to define all of your electronic files, records, accounts—from whatever source—that you have a right to use. These include your online bank accounts, iTunes and Amazon accounts, email accounts, online subscriptions and social media accounts, just to name a few.
While you hardly give a second thought to how your digital assets are managed while you are alive, your trustees and heirs are stuck dealing with the digital world you leave behind. Just ask the parents of a fifteen-year-old Virginia boy who wanted access to their son’s Facebook account (see original article), or the widow who was denied access to her late husband’s Apple ID account (see original article).
This is why Arizona recently adopted a new law allowing access to digital assets by fiduciaries such as trustees, conservators and personal representatives. The Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act becomes effective in Arizona on August 6, 2016. Among others, this Act was endorsed by AARP, Facebook and Google.
The Act does some important things, like giving fiduciaries access to some digital assets. For example, a fiduciary will have access to manage a person’s computer files and web domains, but without more, the fiduciary won’t have access to email, text messages or social media accounts.
While the Act is an important step in the right direction, there is more that you must do to protect your digital assets. One of the simplest things is to give consent for a fiduciary to have access to your digital assets. That requires specific language in your trust, will and power of attorney which specifies which digital assets a fiduciary can have access to.
To save loved ones the headache of managing the digital footprint left behind, every adult should have an estate plan which deals with digital and other assets.
Kevin Kinghorn’s practicality, expertise and experience allow him to help his clients wade through complicated issues to find custom solutions to his clients’ individual circumstances and needs. Even more, Kevin enjoys the friendships and lasting relationships that are created with his clients. If you would like to make an appointment to find out how we can help protect your legacy, call (520) 529-4000, or visit us online at www.KHarizona.com.