Does Anyone Know Your Digital Asset Information? Should They?

All of us are well entrenched in the digital world today. We have online accounts, passwords, log-ins, online bank accounts, etc etc. Have you ever thought what would happen if you died or if you became incapacitated?

Many people never think of the issues that will consume your caregivers or the person handling your estate and/or trust if you die or become incapacitated. How many deductions do you have electronically taken from your bank account each month? Would anyone even know what those electronic debits are for? How many times do you bank online?

As I talk to my clients about their digital assets many have not even thought of who should have that information. Unfortunately all I have are alternatives. The decision is up to you. I do recommend that you have all passwords, account numbers, credit cards, etc and personal information SOMEWHERE. Many people like the written document. Many, like myself, like to use a computer program or app. I use a program called OnePassword. My husband only has to know one password to get into my information. Of course there is no guaranty that OnePassword won’t be hacked. There are MANY apps that will store that information and I am sure there are many hackers that will be able to hack in at some point in the future. That is why the written document may be preferred.

But what happens when you change passwords? Will you remember to update that information?

The real issue is when you die or become incapacitated. How is the agent or personal representative going to gain access to your accounts? I have added language in my firm’s documents that permit the personal representative or trustee to gain access to those documents but the Apples of the world could care less what state documents say. Their agreements control. Have you ever really read those terms and conditions you have to agree to sign for a Facebook, a Google or an Apple product? Those contracts are what control those products. Nonetheless, I have included language to do the best we can under Florida law.

Fortunately, legislation is being proposed for the 2015 legislative session from the Florida Bar Real Property Probate and Trust Law (“RPPTL”) Section which will better define rights as to digital assets. The RPPTL proposal would create a new Chapter 740 of the Florida Statutes entitled “Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act”. This has NOT been passed by the legislature but if the legislation is passed the effective date would be July 1, 2015 and would provide guidance to an agent under a power of attorney, a personal representative under a Last Will and Testament, a trustee under a trust and a guardian in a guardianship.

ADVICE: Unfortunately there is no perfect answer and there is a lot of confusion as to how obtain digital information from digital providers. That is why it is CRITICAL you discuss these issues with your attorney and loved ones. Let someone know how they can find your passwords, account numbers, etc. This information is necessary to work with your assets and, if not available, will create unnecessary cost and time in dealing with these assets.


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