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Digital estate planning is a crucial aspect of modern estate planning that addresses the management and transfer of digital assets upon a person’s death or incapacitation. Digital assets include many online accounts and digital files, such as social media profiles, emails, digital photos, online banking accounts, cryptocurrency, and more. In Florida, as in many jurisdictions, the process of digital estate planning involves several key steps and considerations to ensure that these digital assets are properly managed and distributed according to the individual’s wishes.

Understanding Digital Assets: Digital assets are online accounts or files stored on a computer or cloud service. These can include: 1) Social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), 2) Email accounts, 3) Online banking and financial accounts, 4) Digital photo and video libraries, 5) Online businesses and domains, 6) Cryptocurrencies and digital wallets, and 7) Subscription services and loyalty programs.

Legal Framework Governing Access To Digital Assets in Florida

Florida has specific laws that govern the access to and management of digital assets after an individual’s death or incapacitation. The Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act was passed in 2016 to provide fiduciaries with the ability to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets by giving legal authority to a designated fiduciary through a will, trust, or power of attorney. The overall purpose of the act is to provide fiduciaries legal authority to manage digital assets and electronic communications in the same manner that they manage tangible assets and accounts. It is also meant to provide custodians of digital assets and electronic communications with the legal authority they need to interact with the fiduciaries of their users while honoring privacy expectations of the user.

Tips for Digital Estate Planning in Florida

  • Inventory of Digital Assets: Create a comprehensive list of all digital assets, including login information and passwords. This inventory should be kept in a secure location and updated regularly.
  • Designate a Digital Executor: Choose a trusted individual as your digital executor. This person will manage your digital assets according to your wishes. Make sure this choice is documented in your will or estate plan.
  • Legal Authorization: Use legal documents such as a will, trust, or power of attorney to grant explicit authority to your digital executor. Ensure these documents comply with Florida law, particularly the Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act discussed above.
  • Instructions for Digital Assets: Provide clear instructions on how each digital asset should be handled. This can include deletion, transfer of ownership, or preservation of certain accounts.
  • Review Service Provider Policies: Many online service providers have their own policies for handling accounts after an owner’s death. Review these policies and incorporate any necessary steps into your digital estate plan.
  • Secure and Accessible Documentation: Keep your digital estate plan documentation in a secure yet accessible location. Inform your executor or a trusted family member of its location.
  • Consult a Professional: Consult an estate planning attorney knowledgeable about digital assets and Florida law. This can help ensure that your digital estate plan is comprehensive, legally sound, and aligned with your overall estate planning goals.

Digital estate planning is an evolving area of law, and it is important to stay informed about legal changes and best practices. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your digital legacy is managed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are not left with the burden of trying to access or manage your digital assets without proper authorization. If you are interested in planning your digital estate near Tampa Bay, Palm Harbor, or St. Petersburg, Florida, Verras Law has the extensive experience and compassion to assist you in successfully planning your future. As dedicated professionals, the individuals in our firm will listen carefully to the details that make your life unique, and then draft documents tailored to your specific needs and goals. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.