What happens to your digital assets when you die?
You may not consider your digital assets when considering estate planning. However, it is essential that you plan for these, as well as your tangible assets.
Digital assets encompass a wide range of electronic records and accounts, including social media profiles, email accounts, digital photographs and online banking or investment accounts. The fate of these assets is governed by a combination of state law, federal law and the terms of service agreements of the digital platforms.
Under South Carolina law, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), you will find legal guidelines for managing digital assets after death. This law allows you to specify in your will, trust, power of attorney or other record who can access your digital assets and what they can do with them. In the absence of explicit instructions, the terms of service agreements of the digital platforms take precedence.
It’s important to actively plan for your digital legacy. Without clear directives, loved ones may struggle to access or manage digital assets, potentially losing sentimental and monetary value. Here are steps to consider:
- Inventory your digital assets: Compile a list of all digital assets, including login credentials. This list should be kept in a secure location and updated regularly.
- Estate planning documents: Incorporate digital assets into your will or trust. Specify a digital executor, someone you trust to manage your digital legacy.
- Understand platform policies: Familiarize yourself with the policies of various digital platforms regarding deceased users. Some platforms may allow for accounts to be memorialized, while others may delete them.
- Secure storage: Securely store your digital asset inventory and estate planning documents, and ensure your executor knows where to find them.
By proactively managing digital assets, you can ensure your digital legacy is preserved and your wishes are respected.