People today use and depend on technology more than ever before, and that’s why many states across the country are beginning to draft legislation designed to protect digital assets.
Although people may think of estate planning in terms of wills and trusts, it’s being adapted to include technology, too. Much of what people do, say, and write is increasingly preserved in text messages and email accounts rather than on paper, so it’s important to include digital accounts and assets in an estate plan just like any type of physical asset.
California’s New Digital Estate Laws
Until very recently, California law didn’t address digital assets. However, in 2016, then Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 691, also known as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (or RUFADAA). With its passage, RUFADAA alone added over a dozen new sections to the California Probate Code.
RUFADAA has a special set of legal provisions, and among the most noteworthy is a section which empowers Californians to name an individual who can disclose or transfer control of digital assets to a designated recipient, as long as one of the following conditions exist:
- You gave prior permission, using an online tool, to let a recipient or executor take total or partial control of one or more digital assets
- You gave prior permission, in writing, to your estate executor or a designated recipient
- You didn’t give prior permission, and there was no appropriate online tool, but there’s a post-mortem disclosure in the site’s terms of service
What RUFADAA Does For Your Digital Estate
You might, for instance, write a will that gives your spouse permission to maintain your Facebook account after you’ve died. Or you might want your children to be able to access important business records, stored family photos, or trust permissions you’ve saved on Dropbox. RUFADAA will even let you configure your last wishes to give designated recipients limited access to designated accounts.
RUFADAA lets you grant an executor:
- Full access to an account or accounts
- Partial access to an account, with the executor limited only to the tools and information needed to carry out whatever duties you’ve entrusted to them
- Access to an account they should have been able to use if you were still alive
However, you have to be specific with your wishes and ensure that your will or trust takes RUFADAA’s new rules into account.
Your Digital Estate Could Be Worth Millions
RUFADAA will likely become more important as time goes on. A great many Americans possess millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and will want their loved ones to benefit from their hard work and smart investing once they’re gone.
Contact The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc.
Just as you want to protect your physical assets, you want to protect your digital assets, as well. An estate planning attorney can help you navigate RUFADAA’s provisions to keep your digital assets, passwords, and/or cryptocurrencies protected.
The attorneys at The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. can assist you in protecting your digital estate by compiling a catalogue of valuable virtual assets, naming beneficiaries, and even entering certain assets into trust funds. Send us a message online, or give us a call today.