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Handling digital assets after death

Ohio has adopted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Revised. This was created to try to bring some clarity and consistency to laws about digital assets. A fiduciary does not necessarily have the same rights over digital assets that would be automatic over physical assets. Even if a person has shared a password with someone, it might be against the terms of service of some sites for a non-user to access the account.

Under the RUFADAA, if the company has provided a way for an account holder to allow someone else to take over the account, that company's policies stand. If a company does not have this or a person opts to not use it, the person can put instructions about digital accounts in a will. If there are no directions left by the person, then the terms of service control what a fiduciary is allowed to do. The fiduciary may also be permitted to enter someone's accounts to get information such as an email address, although accessing the contents of the email might be illegal.

People may want to inventory their digital accounts and sign up for any tools that allow someone to manage the account after the owner's death. They may also want to create estate planning documents dealing with digital property.

Plans for digital assets should be integrated into the overall estate plan. This means making sure family members understand a person's wishes for those digital accounts and thinking about who should get sentimental items like photos. Some digital assets may be valuable, such as domain names or bitcoin accounts. People might want to leave special instructions if there are items they want destroyed, such as personal writing on electronic files, or if there are particular messages they want posted or online acquaintances they want contacted.

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