What happens to your digital accounts when you die?

Almost everyone today has at least one, if not multiple, digital online accounts: e-mail accounts (such as Gmail, Yahoo! or your e-mail account with your internet provider), online photo albums (such as Picasa Web Albums), social media accounts (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat), and other accounts that are Cloud based.  So, what happens to these digital accounts and the content you have stored with these service providers when you die?  Unless, the service provider has features such as “opt in” or “inactive account manager” or “legacy contact” that you have utilized allowing specific named individuals to receive your content upon your death, then your digital assets will be frozen and can’t be retrieved by anyone.  However, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), allows individuals to grant specific directions for disposition of digital assets in their Last Will and Testament or Trust.  If there is no written provision, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) will only allow your Executor to get what is called a “catalogue” of the deceased’s persons e-mail, which will only consist of a list of addresses for the sender and recipients, along with the dates and times, but will not give any content of the e-mail, not even the subject line.

Therefore, to avoid having your digital assets gone forever upon your death, you can include specific directives in your estate planning documents to allow your representative to access your digital assets and accounts.  However, since the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) is not currently enacted in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is best to provide the representative of your estate or trusted loved one with a comprehensive list of all digital assets and accounts that you have, providing the user name and password for same, so that they can retrieve your digital information, photos, videos, etc.  Please feel free to use our FREE “Legacy Planning - Personal Records Organizer” to list your digital assets and accounts, as well as other essential information.