Texas has adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. It provides a three-tiered approach to deciding who can access your Facebook account, your Netflix account, your frequent flyer miles, your electronic banking and other digital assets.
Naming a Designated Recipient for Online Accounts
You may have never noticed the online tools in the Terms of Service or even read the Terms of Service. But these tools, such as Google’s “Inactive Account Manager”, let you determine what happens to your account after you die or, being ill, do not use it for a certain period of time (which you can specify.) Facebook allows you to create “legacy contracts.” These online tools allow you to name a “designated recipient” who can perform many of the same tasks you would ask of the agent under your Durable Power of Attorney or the executor of your Will.
Other Tools to Designate a Recipient for Digital Assets
If you cannot find these online tools – and some sites do not have them – don’t despair. You can designate someone in your Durable Power of Attorney, Will or trust.
If you do not, those long, rarely read Terms of Service will prevail. It may be impossible for anyone to access your digital assets.
For some accounts, that may be just what you want.
But what if you have a business or a rental property? Consider opening accounts in the name of the LLC, LLP or trust or other entity which will persist so that someone can access information even if you are mentally incompetent, lack legal capacity or die.
Information to document now
Whatever you do, prepare a complete list of usernames and passwords, online user accounts and other digital assets and keep the list up-to-date. Include your security questions and answers. Keep it in your safety deposit box or a similarly safe location.
Estate Planning attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.
She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.