Technology and the Internet have made many things in life easier, more convenient and efficient. However, they have also made estate planning more difficult in a number of ways. More and more California residents have found that they must consider the disposition of digital assets when engaging in the estate planning process.
Before the Internet, it was significantly easier to administer an estate and tend to the unfinished business of a loved one. This could usually be accomplished by following the paper trail. Doing so made it easier to find bank statements and unpaid bills. However, nowadays people have designed their lives around the Internet, which has made the process of estate administration more challenging.
It is a good idea to take the digital estate into consideration when creating a will or making plans for possible incapacitation. The digital estate includes social media accounts, email accounts, online banking and even online video game accounts. Failure to protect online and digital assets can result in various negative consequences, such as electronic bills not being paid or valuable digital possessions being lost. Some individuals may also have embarrassing accounts or online secrets which they do not want accessed by others.
In order to properly implement digital estate planning in California, it is important to have a complete understanding of the applicable laws. This can be challenging since laws pertaining to digital assets are relatively new and are constantly changing. However, failure to do so can create an even bigger challenge for intended beneficiaries when they are attempting to settle the estate of a loved one.
Source: dispatch.com, “Guide to Life: How to handle online accounts during estate planning“, Hannah Yang, March 13, 2015