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Wills, Trusts & Estates: Plain and Simple – Death and Digital Assets

January 14, 2021

Over the holidays, you or a loved one may have received some type of computer or device that connects to the internet, email and various applications. Or photos were taken and stored on such a device, or posts were made on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and more. What happens to there “digital assets” when you die? New York enacted a law in 2016, which may be helpful in dealing with your digital life after death.

This law allows executors and other representatives to deal with someone’s digital assets upon death. Prior to the new law, digital service providers (ex., Facebook, Google) frequently refused to grant access to a decedent’s accounts, relying on federal privacy laws. Now, a user may direct by means of an “online tool” (assuming offered by the service provider) the disclosure of some or all of the user’s digital assets, including the content of electronic communications. The directive set forth in the online tool overrides any contrary communication in a will or other instrument. If there is no directive set forth in an online tool, then the user may direct disclosure by will or other instrument.

Reprinted with permission from Lloyd Harbor Life, January 2021. 

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