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Why digital assets are crucial for your business

You can do almost anything online and many people choose to do so.



Why digital assets are crucial for your business

In today’s digital world, most of our financial transactions and communications occur online. Photographs, websites and internet profiles are now almost expected for all of us. Without specific provisions in your estate plan and careful planning, access to this critical information can become difficult for your family or loved ones.

On January 1, 2017, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (the “Act”) became effective. California is the 11th state in the US to adopt this law which establishes a process for allowing your executor, trustee, Power of Attorney or a court-appointed conservator to access your online accounts after your death. This Act also allows you to designate some (or portions) of your account as “off-limits” after your death. This Act has been added to the California Probate Code sections 870 – 884.

Your estate plan should be designed to make the administration process as easy as possible for your loved ones. This includes making it convenient for them to manage your assets upon your incapacity or death and saving them the hassle of sorting through your paperwork to collect assets and pay your bills after you are gone.

Thanks to the internet, most companies provide you with the option to receive electronic statements, set up auto payments or allow you to pay your bills online. Many businesses are in favor of these methods and support online account management and paperless billing. It’s less expensive, more convenient and environmentally friendly for them to send out bills via email than it is to mail bills to each of their customers.

One issue with this type of account management is what will happen with these accounts when you die or become incapacitated? Without physical evidence of your bills or statements for your accounts, how will your successor trustee or family members be able to manage your bills or finances when the time comes? How will they know about bills due or money owed if they are unable to access your email or online accounts?

Your Durable Power of Attorney and your trust instruments should include provisions consistent with California Probate Code sections 870 – 884 naming a fiduciary to act on your behalf for these critical accounts, assets and profiles.

You can do almost anything online and many people choose to do so. These accounts have limited access with protected passwords which can create problems when the account holder dies because no one has access to their passwords. Planning now can save a lot of heartache later.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

John M. Goralka is the founder of the Goralka Law Firm. John is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Taxation. John is also a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate. He is one of few attorneys in Sacramento County with both of these critical specializations in the State of CA. In addition, he successfully completed his Certified Public Accountants (CPA) exam, and holds a Master in Taxation Law (LLM). John received a Laureate Certification in wealth planning for high-net-worth clients from the Southern California Institute. John is a nationally recognized author with articles appearing in Kiplinger, NASDAQ, On Wall Street, The American Journal of Managed Care, Penton: Wealth Management, Yahoo Finance, Leimburg, ThinkAdvisor and Hospital Impact. John was recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer in estate planning and probate, tax, and business law, as well as a Sacramento Top Lawyer in business and corporate law with Sacramento Magazine. The Goralka Law Firm was named a one of the Top 20 Boutique Law Firms in California for its tax and estate planning services. John is rated AV preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell and has the highest possible rating of 10.0 with Avvo, Inc.