Most people default to houses, cars, family keepsakes when asked what assets they should include in their wills. Few testators realize that they must account for their digital assets, as well, when drafting this legal document.
Addressing digital assets like online blogs, social media accounts, and photos stored on the cloud needs to happen if a testator wants a loved one to be able to lawfully gain access to these things.
How changing times call for you to revisit your will
Many individuals have smartphones, email or social media accounts and online dropboxes where they store their cherished or sometimes-valuable digital assets. They likely assume that anyone with their login credentials or access to their device could lawfully access these if they wanted once they died. That’s often not the case.
Corporate owners may even keep records in an online dropbox for easy access by their company’s future leader should they have a business succession plan in place. Few owners take time to draft the appropriate documentation necessary to authorize their successor to access the former owner’s email, the corporation’s computer system or banking data, though.
What you can do to give someone else access to your digital assets
It may be illegal for someone to gain access to your personal or corporate digital assets unless you list them as your designated beneficiary in your will. Virginia’s Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, ratified in 2017, may allow you to appoint a fiduciary to gain access to your digital assets as well.
You should also know that an increasing number of email providers, subscription companies and banks have also begun allowing their account holders to appoint authorized users to manage their accounts in the event a testator cannot.
Ensuring that your heirs can gain access to your digital assets once you’re gone
It probably never passed through your mind that your loved one could be exposed to legal liability for accessing your digital assets because you didn’t list those items in your will. An attorney in Herndon can help you draft your will so that it gives a loved one the ability to lawfully gain access to these assets when you’re gone.