In 2019, it was estimated that 69 percent of all U.S. adults either have a Facebook account or have visited the social media site at least once. More than half, 51 percent, said they visit multiple times per day. With this explosion in social media use among middle-aged and elderly people, more estate plans are including digital assets.
What are Digital Assets?
Digital assets are, essentially, any multimedia content that is stored digitally. Your Facebook photos, home videos you have stored on your desktop computer, online passwords, personal websites, are all examples of digital assets. A relatively new type of digital asset is cryptocurrency, which is basically online liquid assets that you may use to exchange for goods and services; Bitcoin is the most prominent brand of cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency is a prime example of how new digital assets are constantly being introduced and developed. This requires you to re-evaluate your estate plan from time-to-time. It’s even possible to currently be in possession of digital assets you had no idea existed.
California’s Digital Assets Law
In 2016, California passed the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA). This law is officially codified as sections 870-884 in the state probate code. The law allows you to designate a trusted individual, referred to commonly as a fiduciary, to manage your digital assets after you pass away.
Facebook, along with other content-sharing sites, have in-house applications that allow loved ones to maintain your account. Called a legacy contact, Facebook allows this individual to make certain modifications to your profile. However, not all social-media sites have such accommodations, which is where the RUFADAA steps in, allowing your fiduciary to take care of your digital assets in accordance to your wishes.
Digital Assets in Estate Planning
Before you decide to place your digital assets in your estate-planning tool, whether it be a Will or trust, you should take stock of everything you have online and store your usernames, passwords, and answers to security questions somewhere secure. There are a few websites that you may place all your information that is pertinent to your digital assets, such as lastpass.com or 1password.com. It is not advisable to place certain digital assets in a Will, as the information contained therein becomes public. Trusts, on the other hand, offer privacy to decedents and beneficiaries.
Digital assets might be an afterthought when it comes to estate planning, preceded by property such as your house, vehicle, or land. If you fail to plan, though, your loved ones might have a difficult time gaining access to your online presence. Planning for digital assets not only gives your family and friends peace of mind, but it can also allow them to access fond memories of you. Call us at 909-256-6702 for help with making sure all your assets are enjoyed by your loved ones according to your wishes.