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Be sure to include digital life in estate planning documents

Before the advent of technology, most people could handle their final wishes through wills and trusts. However, since so much of life is handled through online accounts, estate planning may need to take this into consideration. Arizona residents who need to establish their own plans may wish to ensure these digital assets are included when drafting their plans.

It may have once been adequate to simply provide a trusted individual with passwords to log into email and other accounts, and either close them out or ensure that they are managed. However, without proper authorization, this person could be accused of hacking, which could block all access to the affected accounts. There is now a legal remedy to this problem through the use of a form referred to as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), which allows the naming of an individual who can legally access accounts by way of a will, trust or power of attorney. Some sites have made provisions for a legacy access, provided the owner has made this provision.

There are several steps to ensure that these accounts are all properly provided for in plans. The first is to make a comprehensive list of all online accounts, along with passwords. One can make use of a password manager and grant access to this information to a selected individual. The RUFADAA form is applicable in Arizona and can be used to ensure that a trusted person can access any named account.

Lastly, any existing plans can be updated to ensure that all digital assets and accounts are included. It is important to specify which accounts can be accessed by which individual and how the accounts are to be managed in the future. Those who are preparing to engage in estate planning may be best served by consulting with an experienced attorney who can ensure that all assets and property will be distributed according to one's wishes.

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