In Perspectives

Michigan legislators just recently passed the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.  This new law provides you with the ability to name someone that can have access to your digital assets when you die.  Additionally, you can restrict who can access – and even know about – the same.

Why is this important?

When you sign up for online accounts you usually have one of those “check the box” agreements (“terms-of-service” agreements).  These agreements are very specific as to what you can/cannot do with the account, and who can access your account.   For example, the Facebook terms of service agreement flat-out states that “you will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.”  Prior to passing this law, it was a gray area as to who could access your accounts after your death – if anyone.  This can be very concerning if you have an account that stores things that may have sentimental value, such as pictures or emails.

Additionally, the ability to block disclosure or access is a big deal.  This may be of more importance if you have strained family relationships – you may not want certain members of your family to have access to your social media or email accounts.  Also, the ability to only grant partial disclosure or access may be important to you.  You can specify if the fiduciary can see pictures, but cannot see emails for example.

How do you take advantage of it?

There are two ways for you to name someone with authority over your digital assets:

First, if the digital custodian (i.e. Facebook) provides an “online tool” where you can direct who can access the digital assets (including electronic communications), the individual can use that.  If that “online tool” can be changed at any time, then this controls – meaning that if you put something different in your estate plan, the online tool designation trumps that.  Staying with the Facebook example, it does provide an “online tool” – you can name a “Legacy Contact” to be able to access your account, download an archive of the pictures, posts, and profile information.

Second, if there is not an “online tool” option, you should address this in your estate planning documents (will, trust, power of attorney, etc.).  You can state in those documents who the digital custodian can disclose or not disclosure to; this person would either be a fiduciary (i.e. PR or Trustee) or a “Designated Recipient” with access to some or all of your digital assets, including electronic communications.

*Keep in mind, if using both the online tool and estate planning documents (which you will likely have to do), the online tool deciders.

Final thoughts?

When thinking about your legacy, and what you leave behind, you likely have a virtual existence on at least some level and this should not be forgotten.  Take some time to explore the “settings” on each of your digital accounts and see if they provide an “online tool” to provide authority to someone to access it.  Then give your estate planning attorney a call and see what their suggestion is for the best way to cover all your digital assets.

Legacy Trust and Your Right to Financial Privacy

At Legacy Trust we have established policies and practices that respect the financial privacy of all individuals who use our trust company. We believe it is critical to comply with the laws and regulations designed to secure your financial privacy. Your relationship with us as our client is very important to us, and we want you to understand our policies and practices about handling your information.

This Policy applies to you – This Policy applies to our relationships with individual clients who inquire about or obtain products or services from us for personal, family and household purposes.

Strict security measures – We take the security of information very seriously. We have established security standards and procedures to prevent access to client information. We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to guard client information.

Limited employee access – We have established procedures to limit employee access to information to only those employees with a business reason for accessing such information. We educate our employees about the importance of confidentiality and client privacy. We take appropriate disciplinary measures to enforce employee responsibilities regarding client information.

Why we collect information – We collect information about you to:

  • accurately identify you;
  • protect and administer your records, accounts and funds;
  • help us design or improve our products and services;
  • understand your financial needs;
  • save you time when you apply for new products and services; offer you quality products and services; and comply with certain laws and regulations;

We collect information – We collect and maintain your personal information so that we can provide investment management and other services to you. The types and categories of information that we collect and maintain about you include:

  • Information we receive from you to open an account or provide investment advice or other services to you (such as your home address, social security number, telephone, financial information and investment objectives).
  • Information that we generate to service your account or from our transactions with you (such as account statements and other financial information).
  • Information on your transactions with nonaffiliated third parties.

We have established procedures so that the financial information we collect is accurate, current and complete. We are committed to work with you to promptly correct any inaccurate information.

Our selective sharing of information – In order for us to provide investment management and other services to you, we do disclose your personal information in very limited instances, which include:

  • Disclosures to nonaffiliated companies as permitted by law, including those who help us service your account (such as providing account information to brokers and custodians).
  • Other limited disclosures as permitted by law, for example, required reports to government entities.

We do not share your information with third parties for marketing purposes. We do not sell your information.

Former clients – If you end your relationship with us, we will continue to adhere to the privacy policies and practices described in this notice.

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USA PATRIOT Act

Important Information About Procedures For Opening A New Account

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify and record information that identifies each person who opens an account.

What this means for you: When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause; however, federal law prohibits us from waiving these requirements.

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