Digital Power of Attorney
Author: Attorney Greta E. Solomon
Most estate plans include the execution of a Power of Attorney. The conventional Power of Attorney gives the attorney-in-fact the power to handle the affairs of the principal with the intent that these powers should be used upon incapacitation of the principal.
Increasingly, people are moving their affairs online. Most individuals bank online, pay their credit cards and utility bills online and receive most of their mail through e-mail rather than at their doorstep. These conventional Power of Attorney documents have not previously taken into account the increasingly digital nature of most individual’s financial lives and, unfortunately, most financial institutions will not permit the agent under a conventional Power-of-Attorney to gain access to the Principal’s online accounts and statements.
It is important therefore, to have your power-of-attorney documents updated to include language which explicitly allows the agent to gain access to the principal’s online accounts. It is also important to create a list of all of your online accounts and passwords and to share the location of that list with your designated agent. This list should include your social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc., your financial accounts, such as your online banking accounts, credit card accounts and any online payment accounts or e-billing accounts that you have set up with your utility companies, and your email accounts.