So many aspects of our lives are managed online over multiple accounts. As a result, state laws have had to catch up with how we oversee our online accounts in life and particularly after death.
The good news—Nebraska adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (“the Act”), and it became effective on January 1, 2017. The Act allows you to grant another the authority to access, manage, and take ownership of your digital assets in your estate plan.
The Act broadly defines “digital assets” as “an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest.” Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-502(10). Digital assets can include online accounts (such as bank accounts and email), documents, photographs, electronic messages, social media accounts (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), blogs, cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin), online purchases/sales accounts (such as Amazon, PayPal, and Venmo), music/streaming subscriptions (such as Pandora, Netflix, and Hulu), online reward programs (such as credit cards, hotels, and airlines), and many others.
If your estate plan properly references the Act, your personal representative or trustee has the authority to access, manage, and take ownership of your digital assets after you pass away; visualize removing “red tape” (i.e., terms of service contract provisions and privacy policies). By properly referencing the Act in your estate plan, you provide your personal representative with an easier avenue to, for example, continue operating your business, settle your affairs, or simply collect lifelong memories such as online photographs that no one else has.
If you executed your estate plan before January 1, 2017, strongly consider an update to properly reference the Act. Nebraska law allows you to incorporate the Act in your will, trust, or power of attorney. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-504. The internet and all things digital play an important role in our everyday lives—and they should be an area that you address in your estate planning.
Please feel free to reach out to the attorneys at Jacobsen Orr if you have any questions about the Act and how to update your estate plan to include it.