Estate Planning for Digital Assets

  • Post last modified:August 10, 2023

As we live more of our lives online, our valuable digital possessions and personal information exist not just in the physical world, but also across the internet. From social media profiles to cryptocurrency wallets, our digital assets and accounts contain cherished memories, valuable information, and even monetary value. 

With proper trust and estate planning in California, you can ensure your digital assets are passed on according to your wishes when you die. Here are some key steps to take:

Make a Comprehensive Inventory

The first vital step is to thoroughly inventory all your online accounts and digital assets. This inventory should include:

  • Email accounts (both personal and work accounts)
  • Social media profiles on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Cloud storage accounts like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, etc.
  • Domain names and websites that you own
  • Online stores and membership accounts like Amazon, eBay, etc.
  • Digital media like photos, videos, ebooks stored online or on your computer
  • Online banking accounts and other financial accounts
  • Cryptocurrency exchange accounts and crypto wallets
  • Gaming accounts with any digital assets or currency
  • Anything else you own or control online

Update Your Will with Digital Asset Details

Under California law, wills can now include specific instructions for how you want your digital assets handled after death.

You should add a section to your will that includes:

  • A list of all your digital accounts and assets
  • Usernames, passwords, and other key login details
  • Specific instructions for what to do with each digital asset – whether to delete the account, memorialize it, transfer it to someone, allow heirs to access contents, or something else
  • The name of an online executor specifically designated to carry out your wishes for digital assets

Providing these details gives clear legal instructions that empower your executor to handle your digital estate according to your wishes.

Use a Password Manager

Managing numerous logins and passwords can be challenging. Using a password manager app or service makes it easy to store credentials for all your online accounts in one secure place.

This gives your executor instant access to the digital details of your life after you pass away, rather than leaving behind a scribbled list of passwords.

Popular password managers like 1Password and Dashlane have features to allow shared access with others, including family and executors.

Designate Digital Asset Beneficiaries

For key online platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can designate a chosen contact or “legacy contact” on your account settings. This person can manage your account if it is memorialized after your death.

Make sure to add legacy or beneficiary contacts where possible so your accounts and assets can be properly managed according to your preferences.

Store Details Securely in the Cloud

Secure digital storage services are designed specifically for storing important end-of-life documents and information. These include Everplans, Cake, and SecureSafe.

Using one of these services allows you to store login details, inventory lists, and instructions securely in the cloud. You can give trusted individuals access to the information when needed.

Consult an Estate Planning Attorney in California

To ensure your digital assets are fully protected under California law, consult an experienced estate planning lawyer. We can review your will and estate documents to confirm your digital assets are adequately addressed. Contact us today to get started.