Few things these days do more to increase the cost of and delay the time it takes to administer an estate than leaving an electronic mess for the executor and heirs to clean up. Yet, that’s what numerous people do by not incorporating their digital assets and electronic lives in their estate plans.

Many people don’t realize the extent of their electronic and digital lives and the potential problems they’re leaving for others to deal with.

Estate planning law has mostly caught up to developments in technology, though it took longer than it should have. Less than 10 years ago, providers of digital assets and services set their own policies on who was allowed access to a deceased person’s digital life. To support their refusal to provide access or information to the estate or surviving family members, many providers cited a federal electronic privacy law making it a crime to access someone else’s online accounts.

Now, most states have enacted a form of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. Generally, the law allows an executor to manage computer files, web domains, and virtual currencies unless the will or other document specifically prohibits the access. All the executor has to do is provide proof that he or she is authorized to act as executor.

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