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Dealing with digital assets in an estate plan

| Feb 14, 2019 | Estate Planning |

While many people may have estate plans that do not take digital assets into account, some Louisiana residents might want to look at the issue. Digital assets can range from photographs to emails to cryptocurrency and more. They may have both sentimental and monetary value.

Louisiana is one of the few states that has no legislation about digital assets and estate planning and that has not adopted a version of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. However, despite this and the fact that digital assets offer a few unique challenges that are not true of physical assets, there are still steps people can take to plan effectively.

Digital assets can be harder for the executor or heirs to locate than physical ones. Furthermore, even if a person leaves a list of accounts and passwords to access them, that person is still bound by the terms of service of each website. This could mean that in some cases, others do not have permission to access the accounts. Sharing passwords when it is against the terms of service could even be a federal offense under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. If Louisiana had the RUFADAA in place, it would clarify some elements of ownership as included in the estate plan, but it still would not override a particular website’s terms of service.

People who are creating an estate plan may want to make a list of their digital assets and discuss the situation with an attorney. Some sites, such as Facebook, offer several options for owners to allow others to manage their accounts in the event of their death. People may also want to find out what legal steps they need to take to allow others to access their accounts. They may even want to close some accounts if they learn they cannot be transferred to someone else.