When people establish their estate plan, they often think about their physical assets. However, there’s no doubt we do more and more online each day. Therefore, it’s equally important to consider digital assets.
With the emergence of new technology, there are more opportunities being created for people to possess digital assets. If not properly planned for, you or your loved ones may have no control over your digital assets after you pass away.
What is a Digital Asset in Estate Planning?
California Probate Code §871(h) defines digital assets as electronic records in which an individual has a right or interest. The term ‘digital asset’ does not include an underlying asset or liability, unless the asset or liability is itself an electronic record.
In other words, the state of California categorizes digital assets as any smartphone applications, social networking sites, web domains, or financial accounts that you own. This can also include cryptocurrencies, email accounts, music and video sharing, photo-sharing sites, or blogs you manage.
Who Will Handle Your Digital Assets?
Because digital assets are endless, there are countless questions to consider when it comes to management and administration. Who will have access to your assets upon death or incapacity? Should certain accounts be terminated?
The best protection for digital assets is to make sure you designate someone to manage these accounts in case of death or incapacity just as they would manage any other financial asset. Digital asset provisions should be included in your Durable Power of Attorney for Finances as well as your Living Trust and/or Will. Failure to include these provisions could result in disputes in the event of incapacity or death.
Once someone has passed away, their accounts are more susceptible to identity theft. They can easily be used by other individuals impersonating them. Unfortunately, loved ones are often left to go through the burden and process of filing a report of identity theft.
The Next Step in Estate Planning
Your assets deserve to go to the specific people and causes of your choice, after passing away.
However, without a properly structured estate plan, you can create detrimental circumstances for your loved ones, rather than help them.
If properly executed, a customized estate plan could save you and your family time, money, and emotional distress. This is why we highly encourage you to contact an experienced estate planning lawyer in California who is well-versed in the management of digital assets.
If you’re interested in learning how you can protect your digital assets, reach out to a practiced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. Christopher Botti (a Board-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law) and Paul Morison have over 60 years of combined experience helping individuals and families set up tailored estate plans and can do the same for you.
We are here to help you through the process and answer all of your questions. Call (877) 585-1885 to set up your first consultation for free and discuss an estate plan tailored to fit your particular needs.
Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. accepts clients throughout California and has offices in Ventura, Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, Valencia, Bakersfield, and San Luis Obispo.