Traditionally, a Houston estate plan has primarily focused on the distribution of tangible property upon a person’s death. However, now that we are firmly in the digital age it is important for everyone to consider how digital assets should be addressed in an estate plan. Digital assets and information include just about anything that is primarily accessed through a digital platform. Examples include social media accounts, email accounts, photos and videos stored on a computer or in the cloud, online banking and investment accounts, and even cryptocurrency.
How do Digital Assets tie into your Estate Plan?
It is important to spell out how such assets and information should be treated within an estate plan. Those who do not have a will leave their loved ones and estate administrators with no access to them. This could result in the permanent loss of data and information stored on an electronic device. With all of the memories we capture and store using our phones, that could be the equivalent of losing years’ worth of family memories. Perhaps even more alarming is the prospect of losing access to financial accounts that are primarily accessed through online banking. If an estate plan is silent about such assets, loved ones may have to put up with the headache and added expense of getting a court order just to access a decedent’s digital accounts and information.
Fortunately, when it comes to accounts accessed online, Texas law makes it relatively easy to guarantee estate administrators access to these types of assets. The Texas Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Access Act (TRUFADAA) gives individuals the ability to elect to grant access to digital accounts and information within their estate plan. Therefore, Texas residents can ensure access for specified individuals to their social media and other accounts upon their passing. Furthermore, an estate plan can direct how the assets and information stored in these accounts should be handled.
While addressing your digital assets clearly in an estate plan is essential, there are a few additional steps that can be taken to ease the burden of accessing and dealing with such assets effectively. First, it is a good idea to keep an updated list of usernames and passwords in a safe location, and inform a trusted loved one of its location. Online password management tools that automatically update and securely store such information can be a good way to do this. Second, stay organized. Remain aware of what types of digital assets and information you have. Finally, remember that an estate plan should be reviewed and updated every few years. This will help address any new issues or concerns that may arise.
Looking for a Houston Estate Planning Attorney to Help Manage Your Digital Assets?
Figuring out what needs to be included in your Houston estate plan can be stressful. Fortunately, the attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC are here to help. The attorney’s in our Houston based office have the knowledge and experience to help you create a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs. Give us a call today at 713-333-8900 to schedule a consultation, and see how we can help you.