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The Pandemic Has Forced Most People To Go Digital - Are Your Digital Assets Protected?

You may not think you have digital assets, but if you’re like most Americans, you’re likely spending considerably more time online and on devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets due to the pandemic. The more time you spend online and on these devices, the greater chance you’ve gained digital assets. Just like other assets, digital assets need protection.

What are digital assets?

Under the Michigan Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADAA), the term digital asset means an “electronic record in which the user has right or interest.” The majority of people use electronic accounts, documents, information, records, and photos that are primarily accessed by an individual via an electronic device. Some specific examples of digital assets include:

  • Email accounts;
  • Online bank and brokerage accounts;
  • Photo storage;
  • Files stored in the cloud (including important passwords);
  • Digital currency;
  • Gaming, music, and video assets;
  • Subscription services; and
  • An online business and other income-producing digital assets.

Access to digital assets

It may be challenging for families when it’s time to gain access to a deceased or incapacitated person’s digital assets without advance planning. In 2016, the state of Michigan passed FADAA, which provides a method for an individuals’ heirs to gain access to and possession of an individual’s digital property after death.

Prior to the FADAA, companies operating online services – referred to as “digital custodians” - were hesitant to grant access to deceased individual’s digital assets. Examples of common digital custodians include Apple, Google, banks, and brokerage firms. The FADAA makes it easier for families who have planned in advance.

Granting access

The FADAA establishes that a fiduciary acting as power of attorney or through a will; a personal representative for a probate estate; or a trustee may gain access to a decedent’s digital assets. In some cases, a court-appointed conservator will be permitted access as well.

The estate planning attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are ready to help you plan for the future of all of your assets, including the digital kind. For more information please call 586-726-1000 or visit our website at www.orlaw.com.

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