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Don't forget your digital assets in your estate plan

Many people who draft their estate plan are surprised by the number of assets they have, large and small, that need to be considered. An experienced California estate planning attorney will help you ensure that you've codified how you want those assets disbursed and whom you want to put in charge of various aspects of your estate, including your financial and health care powers of attorney, trustees, executors and agents. The more thought you've given to these questions before you and your attorney start working together, the smoother and less time consuming the process will be.

One increasingly common type of asset that people often fail to consider before they begin drafting their will, trust and other estate planning documents is digital assets. This September, a new law went into effect here in California called the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Data Act. It allows designated fiduciaries to access and control a person's digital assets and communications in order to administer that person's estate.

An increasingly significant part of our financial and personal lives is now online. Digital assets include everything from bank accounts to data stored in the "cloud" to emails, social media accounts and blogs. Therefore, as you're designating people to handle your estate after you're gone or no longer able to do so yourself, it's important to name one or more persons to be in charge of managing your digital assets.

It's generally best if the person you designate to manage these assets is tech savvy enough to handle the job without relying on someone you may not know for assistance. That person doesn't have to be an internet technology wizard. However, it's probably best not to choose a brother who's been living in the mountains of Tibet for years or your uncle who still relies on his Blackberry. However, as with all of your fiduciaries, it's essential to choose someone you trust. Your attorney can provide guidance on this and all other estate planning matters.

Source: Lake County News, "Estate Planning: Important but sometimes unaddressed estate planning issues," Dennis Fordham, Nov. 12, 2016

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