Delaware: Enacts Law to Address Digital Asset Dilemna
On August 12, 2014, the state of Delaware became the first state in the U.S. to enact a comprehensive law that allows family members to access the digital assets of their loved ones who are incapacitated or have passed. The law goes into effect January 1, 2015 and grants a fiduciary (i.e. trustees, agents, personal representatives, guardians, executors) access and authorization to digital assets.
What Are Digital Assets?
Digital Assets include things like social media accounts, email accounts, photo books, Paypal accounts, websites, investment accounts and much more. On average, people value their digital assets at nearly $55,000.
So, What’s The Problem?
The problem is that technology is advancing at a much faster pace than the law. When a loved one is incapacitated or passes, family and friends are faced with an uphill battle when trying to access the person’s digital accounts and assets. This is mostly due to various restrictions that are found in the service contract between the person and the internet service provider. For example, if Yahoo learns that you have passed, they will automatically delete your account. Each service provider has a different set of rules making the outcome different for each person and each type of account or asset.
So, How Do I Plan for my Digital Assets?
With careful organization and direction in your estate plan, it is possible to include instructions that will successfully plan for your digital assets since California does not yet have law addressing this issue.