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Estate Planning for Digital Assets

Do you worry about your Digital footprint? Wonder what happens to your facebook, twiter, instagram, youtube, and other online accounts when you pass?  Technology has been advancing at an extremely rapid pace and our legislatures have been working equally fast.  This last January, California adopted the Revised Uniform Access to Digital Assets Act (“RUFADAA”).  California is among 19 other states who have adopted the act.

RUFADAA allows you to nominate persons who will have the post-death authority to access your digital assets.  Digital Assets include any kind of computing device; any kind of data storage device or medium, any electronically stored information, any user account; and any domain name as well as anything defined as a Digital Asset under the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act of 2016, as amended.  Cal. Prob. Code §871(h) Examples include e-mail accounts, social media accounts, blogs, online gaming, pay-pal accounts, cloud-stored information, online music and photo storage. The custodian of the account is the person that carries, maintains processes, receives, or stores a digital asset or electronic record, such as Facebook, iCloud, Twitter, and similar entities.

There are two ways in which you can formally authorize another individual to access your digital assets: 1) Use of an online tool provided by the custodian of the accounts, an example of this is Facebook’s Legacy Contact, or 2) Through properly drafted estate planning documents designating a person and defining their authority.

Online Tools

Online tools, such as Facebook’s Legacy Contact, directs the custodian to disclose to a designated nominee some or all of the user’s assets held with that custodian. The permissions granted to the designated nominee are defined by the custodian’s terms of use/service.

Estate Planning for Digital Assets

Another way you can designate a nominee to have access to your accounts is to permit disclosure by the custodian to a nominee/fiduciary/successor trustee in your estate planning documents. The nominee only has the rights that are granted by the user. In order to access the account, the nominee must make a request of the custodian that includes: 1) identification of the account; 2) a death certificate; and 3) Proof of authority to act.

Informal List

Informally, users or owners of digital assets can keep a spreadsheet of their account usernames and passwords and provide this information to their fiduciary upon death. In our digital hacking world there are obvious risks in keeping or storing such a record; however, this is another method by which an individual can provide a trusted fiduciary with the unrestricted ability to manage and close digital assets accounts.

For further inquiries and information about RUFDAA and Digital Assets, Singh Law Firm has Estate Planning Attorneys to assist you with the process.


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