Most people are familiar with popular components of a contemporary estate plan in Texas. These components can include wills, trusts, medical directives and power of attorney documents. In addition to safeguarding our physical and financial assets through estate planning, there is now a need to provide protection and dispensation instructions for one’s digital assets. This has been taken up under measures such as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) which has been passed by many states, including Texas.
This law allows one to designate a person as the legal heir to one’s digital assets. These assets could include phones, computers and online social media accounts and even bitcoin accounts. Simply entrusting passwords and account information to an individual could leave that person open to charges of hacking or worse. Digital authorization can be granted through a will or a trust. The advantage to a trust is that it can also provide for access in the event of one’s physical or mental incapacity.
In order to establish protection for digital assets, a couple of steps should be undertaken. Establish an inventory of all of one’s online information. Everything should be included as it’s better to overprotect than neglect to provide access to a critical account. Ensure that username and password information for those accounts is documented and securely stored. Update one’s estate plan to include all pertinent information regarding the digital assets.
The digital world has grown and become an integral part of many people’s lives. Establishing how it will be handled following one’s death is becoming an important estate planning issue. No one will live forever, but one’s digital life can continue as part of one’s legacy. A person in Texas who is considering protecting one’s digital footprint could possibly benefit from a conversation with an experienced estate planning attorney.