Digital asset access is key to estate administration


In 2016, Washington State legislators introduced the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act to ease access to a deceased person’s digital assets.

What sort of digital assets might you want to give access to?

Some online accounts are crucial to releasing monetary assets. Some contain things such as photos that you may want your family to have. Accessing others is necessary to avoid unnecessary ongoing bills. Here are some typical online accounts you may wish to provide access to:

  • Bank accounts
  • Investments
  • Photo albums
  • Email accounts
  • Social media
  • Streaming services
  • Phone, electricity and gas services

How can you provide access to your digital assets?

There are three ways your estate administrator can access your digital accounts:

  • You can designate access via an online tool: You can find these tools when you first sign up for many online accounts. You can also access them afterward.
  • You can designate access via your estate plan: When naming who you want to administrate your estate, you can specify the access you give them. You can also choose to provide other family members access to individual online accounts, such as photo storage.
  • The estate administrator can request access: If you did not give access, the fiduciary could ask a court for the access they require. The court will not provide access to all your accounts, only those considered necessary for the administrator to carry out their duties.

You can prohibit access to particular online accounts if there are things you prefer not to share, but giving the executor of your estate access to most of your digital assets is wise.

An effective estate plan is one of the most valuable things you can leave behind for your heirs. An attorney can help you tailor your estate plan so that everyone’s needs are met.

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