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Gray & Feldman Legal Blog

 

George H. Gray

Assist your parents' to take control of their digital legacy.

Protect your parents' internet identity after they're gone.

Protect Your Parents' Digital LegacyThe internet is now used for a wide variety of activities we take for granted as part of our daily routine. We use Facebook to share thoughts and photos, Twitter to keep in contact and on-line providers to manage our bank and credit card accounts. These items of information, memories and data are often characterized as “digital assets.” On September 29, 2016, a bill was signed into law by Governor Cuomo which enacted New York’s version of the “Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act” (the “Act”) which nineteen (19) other states have also enacted into law. It grants newly created access to digital assets to all types of fiduciaries; including: trustees, executors, administrators, agents under a power of attorney and guardians. They now have the authority to gain access to, manage, distribute and copy or delete digital assets.


It is always prudent for a parent to share with others his or her user name and password for on-line accounts. If your parent did not share that information or the information is incomplete or incorrect, the Act provides a clear and certain path toward gaining access to this crucial information.


  • A parent may now consent in his or her Will to allow access to a third party (including the Executor) to the content of electronic communications sent or received by a parent and stored by a custodian on the web. Accordingly, you should now urge your parents to draft a new Will or prepare a Codicil to their existing Will to specifically allow this access to their digital assets.
  • A parent may also grant access to digital assets by a power of attorney. To the extent the power of attorney expressly grants an agent the authority, a custodian must disclose to the agent the content of electronic communications sent or received by the parent. The power to access electronic communications is a “hot” power and must be specifically referenced in the Power of Attorney. Accordingly, you should now urge your parents to execute new powers of attorney which grant the authority under the “Modifications” section of the document.


Download our Digital Legacy Guide below.

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