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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Friday, October 29, 2021

Digital Estate Planning in California

There’s no doubt that we do more and more online each and every day. So while we tend to think of our physical assets when establishing our estate plans, it’s equally important to consider your digital life. In other words, your estate plan should take into consideration what you would like to happen to your files, transactions, accounts, and other digital assets after you pass away.

What Counts as a Digital Asset?

Digital assets are any online service or account that you must log into or that is protected by another type of security. Therefore, digital assets may include any web domains that you own, any of your smartphone applications, your cloud accounts, your social media accounts, and your online financial accounts. So many things are now becoming digital – and should therefore be considered one of your digital assets.

How to “Collect” Your Digital Assets

As more things become digital, it’s likely that you may have quite a list of digital assets to your name. It’s important that you establish your inventory. This might include some of the above-mentioned items. Additionally, it’s key that you also establish a list of your digital liabilities, which may include all of your automatic online payments, and your hybrid assets, such as your IRA.

To keep things organized, create a list in which you put the name of the asset and its associated website URL address. Also, include your account numbers and full name associated with the account. You’ll also want to ensure that your accounts can be accessed by your heirs. You can make sure that they are able to get into your account by including any usernames and passwords, as well as any security questions or secondary methods of authentication, should you have them.

After creating your list of digital assets, you will want to decide who you wish to receive access to each of these assets as well as your wishes for what you would like to happen to them after you pass away. These digital assets can then be incorporated into your will or trust.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

It has previously been difficult for other people to gain access to an account that was not theirs. However, California (as well as most states) have now adopted some type of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which now allows executors of one’s estate to gain access to their digital financial assets (unless their will states otherwise). It’s important to note that this does not automatically grant them access to email, text messages, or social media accounts – unless expressly permitted in writing by the decedent.

Biddle Law Can Help

When you work so hard for all of your assets and want them to go to specific people and causes in a certain manner, you deserve to be able to do so. However, without a properly structured estate plan, you can actually create detrimental circumstances for your loved ones, rather than help them. This is why it’s so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California probate attorney who knows the current laws and has experience dealing with the probate process.

At Biddle Law, we are here to answer all of your questions and walk you through the probate process. We care about your assets and your loved ones and want to help in any way we can. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!


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