When Illinois enacted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, it joined a growing number of states that are trying to address a fiduciary’s access to digital accounts and assets. When an individual dies or is disabled or incapacitated, family members are often unfamiliar with the process of disposing of or preserving assets, unfamiliar with guardianships, or unfamiliar with probate. Often times the deceased or disabled individual has not kept accurate records or provided for all assets in their estate plan, will or powers of attorney.
One of the most commonly forgotten or even unknown classes of assets is digital assets. Digital assets can consist of photo libraries, music or movie libraries, email accounts, social media accounts, bank accounts, cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, and other valuable digital content.
Pursuant to 755 ILCS 70/1, a fiduciary now has a greater ability to access digital assets and accounts. Pursuant to the Act, a party acting under a will, power of attorney (POA), a guardian or trustee may be able to access the digital assets and accounts of the deceased or disabled individual. The Act also deals with website terms of service that often times prevented a fiduciary from gaining access to the accounts or assets.
This Act does not, however, impact the importance of careful and considerate estate planning. An attorney can ensure that your digital assets are properly captured by your estate plan. Drafting wills, trusts and powers of attorney with digital assets in mind will ensure that your digital assets are managed in the same manner as physical assets.