In Texas and elsewhere, there is a lot of attention paid to the expanding topic of the integration of estate planning procedures and the so-called "digital assets" that many people are beginning to amass. It is currently a "catch-up" process as the law tries to keep up with the lightning pace of online computing growth. However, the legal system is adjusting and the process of asset protection of digital assets is quickly getting up to par.
The most important law on the subject is the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Act (UFADDA). This uniform law, already passed in many states, was developed by estate planning experts to integrate digital assets into mainstream estate planning. The law has not yet been formally adopted in Texas but an official committee of lawyers and academic experts is working on deciding whether to accept the law and what modifications may be desired.
The law sets forth what the estate planning attorney must do to properly authorize the personal representative to access, control, manage and dispose of the decedent's digital holdings. There is a reasonably good chance that the law will be adopted in Texas in 2017. Accordingly, individuals and couples with estate plans should consult with their estate planning attorneys to bring the plan up to date.
The same is true for those individuals and couples in Texas who do not have an estate plan but intend to meet with an attorney for that purpose in the coming year. The timing should work out well to incorporate the appropriate permissions and statement of intentions regarding digital assets into the estate planning documents. Most people are likely to run into a need for asset protection of digital assets at some point in the foreseeable future. It will important to make sure that the estate planning documents are fully integrated with the UFADDA requirements so that both the traditional and online asset accounts and properties are fully authorized and their disposition specified.
Source: lakeconews.com, "Estate planning: important but sometimes unaddressed estate planning issues", Dennis Fordham, Nov. 12, 2016