Digital Asset Planning – Passage of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act in Oregon
By Rachael M. Harbison
In March 2016, Oregon became the first state to pass RUFADAA: The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Accounts Act. This law will be effective January 1, 2017. The new law is designed to ensure that you can retain control of your personal online information, and you can plan for its ultimate disposition at death or incapacity.
Digital assets consist of electronically stored information that may have monetary or sentimental value. Prior to the passage of this new law, digital assets were subject to the terms of service agreements that are often clicked and accepted without reading the fine print. These agreements frequently prohibit access of a deceased person’s online information. Upon notice of death, the online provider would automatically terminate the account, leading to priceless personal memories or valuable financial information being lost.
With this new legislation, fiduciaries such as trustees, personal representatives, and powers of attorney, can now be authorized to access online information through your estate planning documents. Access to digital assets may be necessary in order to account for all of the estate assets, particularly in a time when online banking and accounting makes a literal paper trail virtually nonexistent. We can assist our clients with identifying digital assets as well as how each online provider handles these accounts at death. Your digital assets may include the following:
- Email accounts, user names and passwords
- Financial account user names and passwords
- Social networking sites names and passwords
- Names of benefit accounts such as airline miles, account number and passwords
- Photos, music, or documents stored on a computer or in the “cloud”
After you determine which account you would like to maintain and allow access to we can work with you to make sure your estate planning documents are updated to include provisions authorizing this access. If no specific authority is given to your fiduciary, then the online provider’s terms control your digital assets. Now that Oregon has a new law to ensure you can retain control, it is important to take the next step and authorize access in your planning documents.