Though it can be upsetting to think about, ensuring you have a plan after you pass is essential to guaranteeing your property is taken care of. However, one thing that many forget to include in a will is their digital assets. Luckily, creating a digital estate plan is a simple way to ensure your online accounts and virtual data are handled according to your wishes. If you haven’t done so already, contact a Washtenaw County estate planning attorney to help ensure your digital assets are taken care of.
What Is Included in a Digital Estate Plan?
Your digital estate plan details what you would like to happen to your virtual assets and grants authority to an individual to carry out your wishes. This person is a fiduciary, as they are responsible for collecting all of your data and archiving or deleting it, according to your wishes.
Digital assets are a broad term to describe any virtual data you may have. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Emails, direct messages, and texts
- Social media accounts
- Online banking information
- Photos, videos, music, and books
- Subscriptions and rewards programs
Is a Digital Estate Plan Legally Recognized in Michigan?
In many states, there is no guidance for digital estates. This makes it challenging for your loved ones to access your digital assets after you pass. Luckily, Michigan has protocols to ensure that the correct people can access your accounts after your death. These guidelines provide the necessary peace of mind that only those you trust can access your account after following the necessary steps.
Though the steps required to gain access seem frivolous, they are necessary to ensure privacy and safety.
In order for someone to access your accounts after you pass, you will need to create a fiduciary. This person will operate under the guidelines determined by Michigan’s Digital Assets Act. If you have not left your passwords and PINs to access accounts, the fiduciary can request data from “digital custodians.” Digital custodians are the companies that operate the systems where your assets are stored, like Facebook or Apple.
Your fiduciary will have to produce a few different items to gain access. This includes a copy of your death certificate, the disclosure request, and a copy of the document granting authority to the fiduciary.
Do I Need Legal Guidance?
Generally, you should invest in the help of a lawyer to draft a legal document like your digital estate plan. If you do not take the proper steps to create a valid plan it may not be executed according to your wishes.
Failure to make the document legally binding makes it incredibly difficult for your fiduciary to gain access to your accounts.
Instead, Collis, Griffor & Hendra can help ensure your digital assets are in accordance with Michigan law. Our dedicated and experienced legal team will work to guarantee that you understand all of your options. Contact us today to discuss your case.