Estate Planning and How to Protect Digital Assets
New Law in Florida Provides Additional Protections for Digital Assets
Through estate planning is one of the best ways to protect your assets as well as the best interests of both you and your loved ones. Effective estate planning covers all types of property including real estate holdings, bank accounts and personal property such as vehicles, jewelry and artwork among other items. However, in today’s technological age it is just as important to consider what will happen to your digital assets in the event you become incapacitated or pass away. During the past few years the importance of protecting digital assets just like any other form of real or personal property has received necessary attention and protection.
When most people begin the estate planning process, they are understandably more concerned about who gets their house, cars and other tangible possessions. It is equally important to consider who you want to retain control of your digital presence. What happens to your Facebook account if you no longer have the capacity to operate it? What about all of your automatic online banking and bill payment procedures you’ve created during your lifetime? Your emails and text messages may contain important information or even preserve memories that you want your loved ones to keep. Failing to include digital assets in your estate planning can lead to unnecessary stress and contentious battles for those left behind.
Helping you understand the Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Law
In response to this newfound awareness, many states have taken proactive steps by enacting specific laws that address the use and disclosure of digital assets. Florida is one such state. The Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act became effective on July 1, 2016. This statute is also retroactively applicable to fiduciaries operating under a trust, will or power of attorney. The law defines digital assets as “an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest.” This encompasses a vast array of digital assets including social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as passwords for online banking entities, text messages and emails you’ve accumulated during your lifetime.
Just as with other types of assets in your estate, you have the power to dictate who has access to your digital assets typically through a validly executed will or trust. You can also specify the type and duration of access, whether complete or restricted and temporary or permanent, you want them to have. Taking the time to protect your interests now eliminates the potential for costly and time-consuming litigation for your loved ones in the future.
If you have questions about your estate planning and asset protection options, contact leading South Florida digital asset protection attorneys at Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll today. To schedule a consultation at our North Palm Beach office, call 561-721-0600 or send an email.