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How does estate planning cover digital assets?

Part of estate planning often includes naming an agent in your will or giving a trusted individual power of attorney. Including these people in your will may give them certain rights to access your communications and financial information in order to execute the terms of your will. Nowadays, your estate may include more than just physical bank statements and letters. You may have online banking accounts, electronic communications, social media profiles and other digital assets. In recent years, legislators have updated Florida law to provide guidance on how and when fiduciaries may access digital assets.

Your digital assets may be valuable both personally and financially, which means they require legal protection to preserve their value and your privacy. You may not want your social media accounts, emails and online banking transactions to be available for anyone to view after your death. However, you may not be able to deny all access to these digital accounts; they likely include key information required in the execution of your will.

The Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act passed in 2016. According to the Florida Bar, the goal of this legislation was to provide fiduciaries the authority and access to manage digital accounts as well as tangible assets. The law describes different levels of access your fiduciaries may have to your electronic communications and other digital assets. For example, if you appoint an agent with a power of attorney document, you must give him or her express authorization to access your emails and other electronic communications. However, he or she may access other digital assets and “noncontent communications” unless you prohibit it.

This general information on digital assets and estate planning is educational and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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