The newest generation of adults grew up with technology. Many of them had cell phones from a young age and could even use computers better than their parents before they reached adulthood. This generation, often referred to as millenials, is comfortable with technology and often adapts quickly to new ones.
What does this mean for estate planning? It means that younger adults like you in particular will need to pay close attention to their digital assets when considering their estate plans.
How much of your estate is online?
Do you check your bank balance online? Perhaps you make your car loan payments online along with your rent or mortgage loan payment. Even your social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram need attention when creating an estate plan. If you happen to make your living on YouTube, you certainly need to make sure your digital affairs are in order.
These are just some of the digital assets that many people, especially younger people, tend to have these days. Estate planning law has struggled to keep up with the need for dealing with these types of assets, and the more proactive you are now, the less frustration, confusion and extra effort your loved ones will go through if you pass away. You may think that you are too young to need an estate plan, but if your digital footprint includes any of the above and more, you do.
The law is catching up
If your family members attempt to access your personal accounts, even if you are deceased, they could face criminal charges for doing so. In order to remove this possibility, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act came into being. This allows you to appoint someone you trust to access your digital accounts in the event of your death. Many states, including Washington adopted this law.
The other reason you need to appoint a fiduciary to handle your digital life is that you may end up in a position where you can't, at least temporarily. For example, if you suffered serious injuries in a car accident and couldn't make decisions for yourself, you can choose someone to make them for you. The RUFADA allows you to designate someone as a fiduciary for your digital assets in your will, trust or power of attorney.
Making sure you do it right
Even though you may look to the internet for answers to many of your needs, you may want to avoid doing so when it comes to estate planning. The law outlines certain requirements for your documentation, and if they are not present, a probate court could end up invalidating your documents when they are needed the most. Instead, you could take advantage of the legal resources in your area to help ensure you do everything right the first time.