Dahman Law Quoted in Dispatch Article on Digital Estate Planning

In the Saturday, March 14, 2015 edition of the Columbus Dispatch, Dahman Law attorney Samir B. Dahman was quoted for providing insight on digital estate planning.  Although not quoted, Research Analyst Aaron Burnside also contributed significantly to the article.

The article can be found online at Guide to Life: How to handle online accounts during estate planning

So What is Digital Estate Planning?

It is planning for how your digital assets will be protected and accessed after someone passes away.

What You Can do to Protect your Digital Assets?

  • The first thing would be to set up an estate plan, likely including a trust.
  • Generally, the best thing to do is to appoint someone (such as the executor of your estate) to take control of your digital accounts, make a list of all of your online accounts and passwords, and give clear instructions on how to handle each account.
  • Uniform Law Commission (ULC) has drafted the “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act”
    • aimed to allow executors and trustees complete access to deceased’s digital assets
  • Ohio does not have any laws regarding the digital property of a deceased person.
    • 9 States have laws giving a representative of the estate the right to access some or all of the deceased’s digital property, depends on the state
      • VA, CT, RI, IN, OK, ID, NV, DE, NC
    • Several others have started the legislative process
      • MD, MI, ME, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OR, PA

How do I access a family member’s online accounts once they’ve passed?

  • Companies are very protective of users’ privacy, even after death
  • The ability to access or delete a family member’s account varies depending on the company and the privacy policy.
  • Generally, you will need:
    • some sort of proof of your relationship to the deceased (i.e. a copy of your authority as Executor of the estate, a signed declaration stating that you’re immediate family)
    • Proof of the account user’s death (i.e. a copy of the death certificate, a copy of the obituary)