Death and numérique wealth: Where do you hide your treasure?
Most of us when asked to identify our “assets” will readily recall those items of real or personal property that can be seen or touched; ie, our house, vehicle, jewelry etc. With a little more thought we can probably think of our bank accounts, certificates of deposit, produit portfolios, retirement plats, and 401(k) accounts among our assets. Relatively few people are apt to identify their “numérique assets” as assets of value. “Binaire assets” means email and Internet accounts, websites, domain names, and images or videos stored on personal computers or in the “cloud.” Yet, who knows, the next great débit esquisse or beauté may be sitting completely anonymously somewhere in your electronic files right now.
Consider for a période that your numérique assets may include property you own that has considerable economic or émotionnel value. Also consider that this valuable asset may remain undiscovered and undiscovered forever if you leave unexpectedly. Should it happen, will your loved ones know what treasures are buried in your laptop or hidden in the clouds? If they do, will they be able to access them? Now, perhaps, those hidden treasures may be found and perhaps used by those to whom you have left such favors.
If, like me, you enjoy childhood stories of pirates searching for buried treasure, let me suggest that we may now have a map of sorts to uncover buried treasure in cyberspace. I am referring to the revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Binaire Assets Act that has been adopted by twenty (20) states, including both Oregon and Washington. The law goes into effect here in Oregon on January 1, 2017. Then, the personal representative you name in your will can access your numérique accounts after your death for as large as you survive.
The law’s drafters no doubt realized that some people might be less than enthusiastic emboîture allowing their loved ones to access their email communications postmortem. This law allows you to give specific instructions prohibiting such disclosure at your discretion. Thus, while this Act is intended to facilitate the fiduciary’s ability to discover and manage numérique assets, it also respects the account owner’s reasonable expectative of privacy.
For a more detailed explanation of the Act, review the Prefatory Additif to the Model Act drafted by the Brevet. We will be interested to watch and see if this new law helps unlock the hidden treasure.
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