Healy & McCann, PC

Digital assets and estate planning

Oregon is one of several states that has adopted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, but this does not mean that a person still does not need to take steps to deal with digital assets as part of an estate plan. Digital assets may include email, photographs, subscriptions, memberships, web sites, social media accounts and more.

Estate planning for digital assets is still very new. There are several issues that may crop up when determining who should have access to the deceased's online content and accounts. The terms of service for some companies do not permit it even if a person is given a password and permission to do so. The UFADAA is an attempt to address some of the issues around access to digital assets, but even in states where it is in place, the person who is doing the estate planning must take some additional steps.

First, the person should make a list of all digital assets. This should include all files, online accounts and hardware. The person also needs a way to leave passwords for the executor or others. While passwords are not supposed to be written down, the person may want to make a list and put it in a safety deposit box. The person should then leave directions about what should be done with the accounts.

It is often suggested that people who are creating an estate plan should talk to family members about their wishes. This can help if there is any part of the estate plan that is unclear, including the person's wishes for digital assets. An additional element of digital assets that a person may need to deal with is cryptocurrency. These can be particularly valuable assets that may be lost to loved ones if they do not have the needed information to access them. An experienced attorney might be able to provide guidance in these matters.

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