How to Handle Digital Assets in Estate Administration

How to Handle Digital Ass…

While access to assets used to be fairly straightforward, in the form of account statements and legal documents stored in safety deposit boxes, filing cabinets, and office desks, this is no longer the case. In the world of digital assets stored in clouds, access to these assets is much more secure. As a result, when a loved one passes away, it can be difficult, or even impossible, for a surviving child or family member to reach those assets for the purposes of estate administration.

In response to these issues, Michigan, along with many other states, passed a law meant to safeguard access to online accounts for your estate fiduciary, whether he or she be a personal representative, power of attorney, or successor trustee. The Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which the Michigan legislature passed into law and become effective in 2016, allows an estate fiduciary to have the same rights and access to your digit assets as to your personal property and tangible financial assets.

Digital assets include those electronic records in which a user has a right or interest. These records might include email accounts, documents stored in the cloud, social media accounts, online brokerage accounts, and other online accounts. The main exclusion from these records include any accounts used in the course of ordinary business an employee.

Under Michigan law, a fiduciary under your will or power of attorney, a personal representative of your estate, a trustee of your trust, or a court-appointed conservator of your affairs. However, you have the right to designate a digital custodian of your online accounts, which will override your personal representative or trustee. For instance, for your Facebook, you have the option of designating a legacy contact, who will have the authority to access your account following your death.

As digital assets are an increasing part of our everyday lives, it is essential that you take the steps necessary to protect them and allow your loved ones to access them and include them as a part of your estate. At Legacy Law Center, our goal is to ensure that you have an effective estate plan in place to meet your loved ones’ needs and safeguard all of their assets, including those that are digital. We have the skills and knowledge that you need to make the decisions about estate planning for your loved ones. Call your Michigan estate administration attorneys at (734) 995-2383 and schedule an immediate appointment.

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