Along with creating new opportunities, new technologies can also create new worries. The advances in digital technologies (such as the rise of social media) that have occurred over the past couple of decades are no exception.
For example, one type of worry individuals may have as a result of these advances are worries about what will happen with their digital accounts and digital assets when they die. In past posts, we have touched on various estate planning issues digital assets can raise.
Now, when new types of estate planning concerns arise as a result of technological advances, there can be confusion over what sorts of things individuals can do to address the particular worries they have. This is because previously established estate planning laws may not touch on all the particular issues these new concerns bring up.
During the course of the continuing rise in the number of people who have a lot of digital assets/accounts, some unclarities have sometimes come up regarding issues like how digital asset/accounts are to be handled in probate/estate administration processes/proceedings and what individuals can do to best ensure their after-death wishes regarding their digital assets will be followed through on. A recent Michigan law aims to provide some clarity in the state when it comes to these sorts of issues.
The new law makes Michigan the 10th state to have a law specifically addressing the after-death treatment of a person's digital accounts and assets. Among the things the new law reportedly does is put rules in place regarding how the bequeathing of digital accounts/assets can be done in the state and rules on after-death access to a person's digital accounts/assets.
It will be interesting to see what this new law ends up doing when it comes to predictability in the realm of digital asset estate planning/estate administration issues here in Michigan. Individuals wondering if this new law might make making adjustments to their current estate planning documents and strategy regarding digital assets and accounts advisable should consider talking with an experienced Michigan estate planning lawyer.
Source: WXYZ, "New Michigan law allows family members to access social media accounts of deceased relatives," March 30, 2016