Who will manage your digital accounts when you’re gone?
Maine’s adoption of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act
As our lives become increasingly digital, we need to consider not just how our “traditional” assets (e.g., furniture, jewelry, car, etc.) will be transitioned upon our death or incapacity, but also our digital assets. Digital assets encompass a wide variety of things: some have monetary value such as cryptocurrency, domains, websites, etc., some are simply login credentials to bank and investment accounts, and others have sentimental value such as social media profiles and actual media files (e.g., digital photos of your family, friends, and pets).
Adding to the complexity when we are talking about a wide variety of “assets,” is the fact that many service providers have different “terms of service” and require different levels of authority for someone other than you to access your assets. Google allows you to name an “Inactive Account Manager” and Facebook allows you to name a “Legacy Contact” – but not all companies provide these kinds of tools.
To address this situation, many states, including Maine, have laws designed to allow you to name a person – called a “fiduciary” – to manage your digital assets through an online tool, will, trust, or power of attorney. Think about the following: what do you want done with your accounts? Do you want them deleted, or do you want to have them live into the future? Who is the tech savvy person in your life that you trust to get this done? Talk to this person or leave specific instructions about how you want the assets to be managed. Proper planning puts you in the best position to achieve your objectives.
If you do nothing, the terms of service of the service provider – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, etc. – will dictate the outcome, and if those terms present a problem, your family might end up in court proceedings trying to get access to the account and/or assets. Dealing with a loved one’s loose ends – especially in the digital space – can be difficult. Nominating a fiduciary and leaving them instructions can make this task much easier.