Have you ever wondered who will inherit your digital photos, social media accounts, websites, emails, text messages, or other important “digital assets” when you die? As the digital world is rapidly changing and progressing, so is the law. As of August 8, 2016, Arizona adopted a new law called the “Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act” (FAADA). This new law grants fiduciaries (i.e. power of attorney agents, trustees, and personal representatives) access to these “digital assets.”
Prior to passage of the new law, if a person became deceased or incapacitated, companies that stored digital assets on their servers, such as Google or Facebook, determined who could receive those items. The company’s terms-of-service agreements superseded wills and trusts potentially preventing heirs or guardians from gaining access to the digital property. The new law changes this and allows the user to have more control to pass the assets easily to his or her heirs if provided for in an estate plan.
What to know about the new law:
- If a company holding digital assets (i.e. Google or Facebook) allows the user to name another person to have access to the user’s digital assets, the user’s online instructions take priority.
- If the user does not name another person, the user may provide for disposition of digital assets in a written instrument such as a will, trust, or power of attorney.
- If the user does not provide for disposition online or in a written instrument, the terms-of-service for the user’s account will control as was the case before the new law was passed.
- If the terms-of-service do not address fiduciary access, the new law requires the custodian of the digital assets to provide only limited access, i.e. a catalogue of the communications showing the addresses of the sender and recipient, and the date and time the message was sent.
As a result of this new law, with a proper estate plan, you can now authorize who has access to your digital property and what will happen to your digital property on your death or disability. However, if it is not properly outlined in an estate plan, fiduciaries may have limited to no access to these digital assets. Therefore, it is important to have your estate plan reviewed to make sure that your digital assets transfer according to your wishes. Please contact our office to set up a time to meet with one of our attorneys to review your estate plan.
Contributed by Morris Hall PLLC Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff Estate Planning Attorney, Jonathan C. Linford.
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You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall? First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters. Also, Morris Hall is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones. We are one of only three firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership. If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with Morris Hall. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.
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