Getting Access To Dad’s Digital Assets
By: Jeffrey S. Apell, Esq.
One would think that once a loved one is gone and you are appointed as the Executor under his or her Will, you would have complete and total access to all of his or her accounts and assets.
You would be wrong, however.
“Digital assets” are defined as a person’s digital property and include any electronic communications. Some examples of digital assets are financial accounts, such as online bank accounts, email accounts and social media accounts, computer files, web domains, and virtual currency.
Why is this important to you?
Just because you are named as Executor, it does not give you automatic rights to contact social media companies such as Facebook. If you do not have your loved one’s password, you may not be able to access their accounts. Facebook will not help you out.
The same goes for having access to your loved one’s email accounts.
I applaud the New Jersey Legislature for passing the “Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act”.
As of the writing of this blog, the Bill is sitting on Governor Chris Christie’s desk for consideration. Nearly half the states in our country have some sort of law that addresses this. I certainly hope that New Jersey is next.
This Bill, if made into law, would allow fiduciaries to manage digital property, but restricts a fiduciary’s access to electronic communications such as email, text messages and social media accounts unless the original user consented in a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney or other record.
The article above: (1) does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for personalized legal advice from a qualified attorney. You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel about your specific matter.