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Include digital assets in estate administration instructions

Feb 13, 2018 | Probate & Estate Administration

The volume and numbers of data accumulated by the average human being has increased exponentially in just the last decade. The previous ten years or so has brought the iPhone, Facebook, Gmail and a host of other digital and social media accounts. For individuals in Florida who wish to direct how this digital information will be handled during estate administration after their death. experts recommend including the digital accounts in the last will and testament documents. 

A draft uniform law was recently created by a group of lawyers from across the United States. The makers of the draft encourage state lawmakers to adopt the policy of allowing individuals to specify in their wills that the estate administrator be able to access digital accounts upon their death. At least 39 states have adopted the uniform law, with seven more considering the policy in 2018. 

Some online account companies have pre-existing policies about what happens to the account holders’ information after their deaths. Yahoo, for example, has a policy to delete the account and deny access. For some, it can be useful to access an individual’s email account during estate administration in order to access financial accounts or records. 

When contemplating Florida estate administration in Florida, a person may want to explicitly state whether and how they wish to have their digital assets handled. When sharing passwords with a future administrator, one should remember that the will becomes part of the public record after death, so no passwords should be shared directly in the will. There are other considerations as well. Individuals with questions about this issue may choose to hire an estate planning attorney for more help.

Source: Scientific American, “Estate Planning for Your Digital Assets“, Natalie Banta, Feb. 7, 2018