An individual’s property and estate have changed with technology. People now possess email, social media, and digital services and perform much of their business online. An estate plan should address these assets.
Your executor or personal representative does not have automatic access to all of the deceased’s online accounts unless the deceased person gave consent. The future of your digital assets depends on the effectiveness of your estate planning.
Washington, like most states, adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. It grants access to executors or administrators if a setting or online tool was activated on the online account providing a direction to disclose its contents after your death. Your will may also allow access to these accounts.
If authorization was not provided under these two options, non-work essential e-mails or similar electronic communications may be inaccessible to legal representatives unless the accounts’ terms of service grant permission.
Passwords and usernames
Individuals should provide their usernames and passwords for their accounts to their executors or administrators. But these representatives cannot just logon to online accounts using this information if the terms of service do not allow it. Some online accounts limit access to the original user even when that person died.
Estate planning and access
To assure that your executor or administrator have access to online accounts and other digital assets after death or disability, the will and financial power of attorney should specifically address access to these accounts. Activate any account settings or online tools providing access to online accounts.
Your will and financial power of attorney may also contain restrictions to your social media accounts. Listing accounts that should remain inaccessible is additional option. You may also activate an account setting that denies access to social media accounts after you die or suffer a disability.
Attorneys can help develop a plan that meets your and your family needs. They can also prepare the documents that comply with Washington law.