As more of our life goes online, it is essential to consider what happens to your digital life when you die.
Your estate plan needs to cover your digital assets, not just your physical assets. What does this mean? Digital assets are anything stored digitally. These could be anything from social media and email to files and images stored in the cloud, to your online banking. Digital assets belonging to your employer, such as your work email account, are not covered.
When you draw up an estate plan, you give someone the fiduciary authority to take charge and administer your estate when you die. You do not automatically provide them with access to your digital assets. Under the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act introduced by California earlier this year, there is now a clear way to gives someone access to your online life.
- You can use an online tool to give a named person access to specific digital assets.
- You can give written permission for a named person to access your digital assets.
- They can get a court order.
You may have unknowingly given authority to access specific digital assets when you opened the account. For example, your cloud storage may, in the small print, have a clause that allows the executors of your will access when you die.
Giving someone access to your digital accounts is essential. You cannot predict when you die, so it is vital to include this in your estate plan sooner rather than later. Otherwise, your family could struggle to access your bank accounts or the final draft of your next novel stored in the cloud.