How Are Digital Assets Handled in California?
In 2017, California enacted a new law that makes it easier for the executor of an estate - the individual has chosen to execute the conditions of a will or trust - to gain access to their loved one's digital assets. Previously, this access required a court order but now only requires one of three things:
- The deceased loved one gave prior consent via online permission such as Google’s Inactive Account Manager or Facebook’s Legacy Manager
- The deceased loved one gave permission in writing
- The “Terms of Service” can give the heirs permission to access the information, but you will most likely need a court order to gain access.
You should consult with an experienced attorney before attempting to acquire the digital assets of your loved one if access was not granted before death.
Why Do Digital Assets Matter?
Digital assets can be anything from photos, emails, and writing to financial information, social media accounts, and music collections. When you are creating an estate plan, it is important to consider whether you would want anyone to access these things or not. You may want to leave financial accounts or business information to only certain individuals, in which case you would need to stipulate that within your estate plan.
Your estate plan may also include a directive for a specific person to manage or delete certain digital assets upon your passing.
A trust agreement gives an individual called a “trustee” legal title and control over another person’s — called a beneficiary — assets and property. A living trust is created when you are alive, rather than one you create via your will or testament.
The main advantage of creating a living trust is probate avoidance for your surviving family members, but can also benefit you in other ways, such as:
- Eliminating the need for guardianship when you are incapacitated
- Keeping your estate completely private
- Holding and managing assets for minor children and/or loved ones with special needs
- Making contestation more difficult
If you are thinking about creating a living trust, schedule a free consultation with our experienced attorney. We will help you determine the best route for you and your estate.
Don’t leave your family’s future and your assets to chance after you are gone. Make an estate plan today to give you and your loved ones peace of mind. Call our office today.