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Don’t forget about your electronic or “digital assets.”

Don’t forget about your electronic or “digital assets.”

Do you have a Gmail or Yahoo email account?  Do you have an Apple ID that allows you to email, buy music, download apps, and perhaps most importantly, store your family photos in iCloud?  What happens to these accounts if you become disabled or die?  Will your fiduciary be able to access these accounts?  According to the iCloud Terms of Service, "any rights to your Apple ID or Content within your Account terminate upon your death," but who actually scrolls through and reads the lengthy Terms of Service Agreement that pops up when one opens an email or other electronic account?

The following is a link to an article published by the Ohio State Bar Association and Attorney Lori Kuchmay that elaborates on the questions raised above, discusses the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, and advises that we should be careful to address our digital assets in our estate planning:  The forgotten assets: Protecting your client's digital assets at death.

In the above-referenced article, Attorney Mark Watson, chair of the OSBA EPTPL Committee on Access to Digital Assets, explains where Ohio stands in regard to the adoption of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act:

The Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section of OSBA has studied the issues associated with fiduciary access to digital assets and has proposed adoption of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (Revised UFADAA) in Ohio.  Further, on April 27, 2016, the OSBA Council of Delegates unanimously approved the proposal, and introduction of a bill in the General Assembly is anticipated yet this year as OSBA supported legislation. The Ohio Legislative Service Commission has reviewed the proposed legislation and if enacted, Revised UFADAA will become ORC Chapter 2137. New Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2137 has several purposes: (1) It gives Ohio Internet users the ability to plan for the management of their digital assets and electronic communications by fiduciaries; (2) It creates a system to deal with conflicting instructions regarding access to these digital assets; (3) It provides fiduciaries the legal authority to access and manage electronic communications and digital assets while still respecting an owner's reasonable expectations to privacy; and (4) It gives Internet service providers (custodians under the Act) legal authority to deal with fiduciaries of their customers.

If you have questions about your estate planning and making arrangements for your digital assets, please contact Mark Watson or Kyle Witucky at 740-452-8484.


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