North Carolina residents should incorporate digital asset planning as part of their overall estate plan. This may make it easier for others to clean out, shut down or otherwise manage email accounts, bank accounts and other online properties. In some states such as North Carolina, access to electronic accounts may be governed by the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, or RUFADAA. This generally allows a designated party to access electronic accounts stored in a computer, phone or cloud network.
Without designating an authorized party under the RUFADAA, it may be impossible to access an account even if the username and password is known. As with financial or other property, it may be possible to designate a beneficiary who will receive digital assets. It may also be possible to give someone permission to delete or destroy certain digital property like a photo album.
Those who have Facebook or Google accounts may be able to designate another person as a contact if the account owner passes away. Facebook allows individuals to determine if their account should be persevered or destroyed after a person dies. Those who use services to store online passwords may also be able to have a contact who will decide how to handle them in the event that an individual passes.
For most people, estate planning is a lifelong process. As technology evolves, it may be possible to have assets that may not have been accounted for in the past. Therefore, it may be a good idea to review a will, trust or other documents to determine if they still meet a person’s needs. If they need to be changed, the process may be relatively simple to do so with the help of an attorney.