Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Estate Planning and Your Digital Assets

Over the past twenty years, as access to the internet has increased, our digital footprint has exponentially expanded.  Whereas previously we may have had an email account and a few logins to online retailers, we now have multiple email and social media accounts, our banking and utility bills are almost all paperless, and we have subscriptions to websites for shopping, news and much more.

The question is how do we access these various assets to stop auto-billing, obtain important information and correspondence if the user is disabled or deceased?  This has become a larger and larger problem for administrators of estates as they attempt to collect assets and information.  

One option is to keep a spreadsheet with the logins and passwords of all of your accounts.  This can be quite tedious with passwords always changing, and a challenge keeping this information private.  The other option is the ability to authorize a fiduciary to access these records through your estate planning documents.  

In 2015, Illinois passed the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act 755 ILCS 70.  That allows an individual with digital assets to authorize a designated recipient to access the user's digital assets, or instruct the entity to not disclose some or all of the digital assets.  

This law now provides a guardian, executor or trustee the right to request access to online accounts, files, transactions, social media, email and more with a direction specified under a power of attorney, will or trust document.  With this access, the fiduciary may access information, close accounts and obtain information that may be helpful in administration. 

Depending on when you prepared your estate planning documents, you may want to update your documents to provide for this authorization.  As we become more of a digital world, having access to these digital assets and accounts can make the role of fiduciary be less cumbersome.

If you have any questions about this or other tax and estate planning matters, please feel free to contact Glick and Trostin, LLC at 312-346-8258.

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