Lawyers on Call: Digital Assets

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What happens to my computer data and passwords when I die?

In this day and age, we all have lots of electronic data. Just keeping track of our passwords and user names is a big task. There is a recent law in New York State that allows you to designate someone to have access to your Digital Assets. “Digital Assets” means any electronic record, including emails, login credentials, passwords, online accounts, social media accounts, etc.

How do I designate someone to have access?

You may already have designated someone, using an online tool. Let’s say I open a new gmail account. When I accept the terms of service, that usually dictates who can have access to my account. But if there is no selection by online tool, or if I want to override the terms of service, I can grant access to my executor in my will. I can also designate my Agent under my Power of Attorney to have access during my lifetime.

This new law is designed to balance our privacy concerns with the practical reality of giving access to someone we trust, such as our executor (after we die) and our Agent under a Power of Attorney (during our lifetime). So if you are updating your estate plan, or working on a new estate plan, ask your lawyer about the Digital Assets law.


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