In 2024, the question of a decedent’s digital footprint is more relevant than ever. A digital footprint includes (but is not limited to) a person’s emails, texts, social media accounts, credit card accounts, cell phone data, and photographs – essentially, a digital footprint includes a wide array of personal information. As more questions arise about what will happen to this footprint upon an individual’s death, we look to Texas legislation, which has provided promising signs of progress.
Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Access Act
In 2017, Texas enacted an Act, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Access Act (sometimes referred to as “RUFADAA”), that dictates how an estate’s executor is able to access a decedent’s digital assets. Essentially, as long as the executor has valid legal authority and complies with each account’s terms of service, that executor can access the digital assets in question. There are certain restrictions under the Act – for example, it generally keeps the executor from accessing the decedent’s emails, texts, and social media accounts.
Accounting for Your Digital Footprint in Your Estate Planning Documents
While the RUFADAA contains promising and specific provisions about what happens to a decedent’s digital footprint, it is never a bad idea to include detailed instructions in your will or estate plan. By including, for example, sections about who you want to take on your digital footprint (and what you want them to do with it), you can ensure that your digital information is kept safe in the long term.
Overall, Texas law is still evolving on this subject, and it is important to keep an eye on how things continue to move forward as time goes on. Ultimately, if you do have questions about how to manage and protect your digital footprint, consider asking your estate planning attorney about the right strategy for you. Everyone is different; everyone’s digital footprint is different; and everyone’s plan for how to mitigate harm will accordingly be a bit different. To understand the options in front of you, speak with a Texas estate planning attorney who can offer you sound and context-specific advice.
Do You Need a Texas Estate Planning Attorney in Texas?
At McCulloch & Miller, we provide estate planning services that account for each individual’s goals and circumstances. Part of our job is to keep up with relevant legislation related to estate planning in the state, so that we can advise clients according to their goals and in alignment with our experience in the field. After practicing for decades in Texas, we have learned what works and what doesn’t work, and we would be happy to offer you our services as you sort through the many estate planning tools that might be relevant to your personalized case. If you are in need of an attorney in the Houston area, give our office a call today at 713-955-7281. You can also fill out our online form to have an attorney reach back out to you as soon as possible to discuss your estate planning needs.