Vincent Gaffney

Jun 24 2019

Wealth Management Spotlight: Your Estate Plan and Digital Assets


What happens to your Facebook, iCloud, PayPal™, Instagram, or Gmail accounts after your death? These are known as digital assets, and the answer can be worth considering in your estate plan.

What are digital assets?

Iowa law defines a “digital asset” as an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest –not including underlying assets or liabilities or individual health records (for example, online access to a checking account does not make the underlying checking account a digital asset).

Digital assets may be anything from social media pages, email, and blogs– to airline miles, rewards accounts, or even digital currency and payment accounts. A digital asset’s value can be sentimental or they can be quite valuable.

What happens to your digital assets after your death?

Unless you act, your digital assets may be inaccessible after your death. This could be a problem for both those who want to preserve their digital assets and for those who would like their accounts decommissioned.

Why does it matter?

Everyone uses technology in different ways and for different reasons. Some may conduct important personal business transactions via their email account. Others may store a lifetime of memories via social media. Some may be uncomfortable with the thought of their social media accounts continuing after they are gone, and others may wish to leave a loved one’s profile open as memorial to their life.

Clarity Provided

In 2017, Iowa became one of the more than thirty states to pass the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. This new law provides Iowans the power to decide who, what, when and how a fiduciary may gain access to their digital assets.

However, the law requires digital asset owners to take action in order to take advantage of their new powers. The time to act is now!

What can you do?

Participate in programs that online providers have started to roll out in response to the problems of left behind digital assets. For example, a social media company may allow provisions for memorial profiles, or an email provider may allow users to grant authorization for successor users to access accounts after the death of the primary user.

Work with an attorney to update your current estate planning documents such as a will, trust, or power of attorney to authorize a chosen person to access your digital assets in order to wrap up your affairs.

Check the Terms of Service of your current online service providers. If you find provisions you do not like, shop around for other providers.

Consider making a list of the important digital assets that you hold and keeping it in a safe place, such as a safe deposit or lock box.

Our Hills Bank Wealth Management Group has Officers in both Johnson and Linn Counties that would be happy to assist you with your estate planning needs or answer any questions you may have. Visit and connect with a member of our Wealth Management team or call us at 1-800-889-8858.

Investment products are not a deposit, not FDIC insured, not insured by any federal government agency, carry no bank guarantee, and may go down in value.


Vincent Gaffney

About Vincent Gaffney

Vincent Gaffney is a Trust Officer at Hills Bank's North Liberty Forevergreen Road location. Vincent has been at Hills Bank since 2015 specializing in personal trust administration, charitable trust, estate planning and administration, and donor advised gift funds. Vincent is a Solon native and a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law. Vincent can be reached at

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