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Protecting your digital assets

Digital assets represent an aspect of your estate that needs protection as much as the more traditional assets in your estate. In fact, someone who is acting as a personal representative, a conservator or a trustee, has a legal duty to gather and protect all the assets of a decedent or protected individual.

Your personal representative may not have the power to obtain access to your online accounts that may contain valuable and sentimental photos of your family, pets, posts on social media, emails and bank account statements. This is because several online providers have differing policies or terms-of-service contracts concerning whether they will give fiduciaries access to online accounts. For instance, the terms-of-service agreement for Yahoo claims to give the company the power to remove an account upon the demise of the account holder, regardless of how the estate may be affected.

In response to the obstacles that have prevented fiduciaries from carrying out their responsibilities, the Uniform Law Commission embarked on a process that has taken over two years to complete, and has culminated in the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA).

It is a statute that was enacted in order to operate along with a state’s current laws regarding probate, trusts, guardianship, and powers of attorney. The new legislation will enable fiduciaries to have authority over an individual’s digital assets in addition to the usual assets, and to act on behalf of a protected person or estate. It is an important statute for the digital age, and it is recommended that each state enact the new law as quickly as possible.

If you are interested in learning more about protection of your digital assets, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney at Hook Law Center.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. To learn more, visit or call 757-399-7506.

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