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Should your estate plan encompass digital assets?

When you are creating your will, you may first think about how you want to distribute your physical and financial assets, such as real estate and stocks. However, it is important to consider your digital assets as well. Email accounts, digital bank statements and social media profiles may all contain vital information and content your survivors need to access. State laws may vary in how they address digital assets after death; in Ohio, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act provides guidance on the topic.

Including your digital assets in your estate plan may give your heirs and executors the access they need to follow the terms of your will. According to the Ohio State Bar Association, the RUFADAA gives executors, trustees and agents default access to your digital assets. However, if you want any of these agents to access the content of your digital communications, such as email, you must provide an affirmation to that effect. You may also make modifications in your estate plan to limit a fiduciary's access to specific accounts. In some cases, you may be able to use online tools, such as Google's Inactive Account Manager, for these elections.

The OSBA describes four unique categories your digital assets may fall into. You may have assets that hold monetary value, such as cryptocurrency. Another category is electronic communications, such as email and social media messages. Other digital assets may include financial information, such as retirement and bank accounts. Online activities and hobbies, such as photos and genealogy data, fall into a fourth category. Giving trusted fiduciaries access to these accounts may help the execution of your will go smoothly.

This information about estate planning and digital assets is intended for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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