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Estate planning and digital assets

People in Wisconsin can use an estate plan to help ensure that their financial strategy is sound. It can also help ensure that their preferences are honored when their assets are handed out to beneficiaries and can provide a sense of assurance that they have done what was necessary to see to it that their affairs are settled in the way they prefer. However, it is also important that an estate plan addresses how digital assets should be managed.

A person's digital footprint can include social media pages, email accounts, financial accounts, website domains, cryptocurrencies and digital purchases. Individuals who pass away without the right legal solutions in place risk their surviving loved ones not having access to those assets or not knowing how to manage them.

Maintaining a list of passwords and usernames to be given to a trusted person is no longer sufficient. If a third party had access to the login information, they may attempt to innocently access the accounts, which could have a number of unintended consequences, such as accusations of hacking.

Under the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, individuals can appoint a fiduciary who will have the legal right to access their digital assets either before death, if the individuals unexpectedly becomes incapacitated, or after death. This authority can be granted using a power of attorney, will or trust.

An attorney who practices estate planning may consider the types of assets owned by a client and may recommend certain estate planning strategies and tools to ensure that the assets will be managed according to the client's wishes should the client become incapacitated or die. The attorney might assist with drafting the appropriate types of wills, trusts or powers of attorney that will stipulate how a client's digital assets should be managed.

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