How to Set Up Power Over a Client’s Digital Assets

An increasingly important issue in estate planning is how to handle a decedent’s digital assets, e.g., email and social media accounts, digital files and photographs stored in the cloud. Here’s what to do. You may have heard about the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA) (Prob C §§870–884), enacted in California in 2017, but it’s not as simple as the Act’s name implies. Plus, you need to understand the Act’s terminology: Internet companies are “custodians”; your client is the “user”; “digital asset” means an electronic record in which the user has a right (it does not mean the underlying asset); and the custodian can offer an “online tool” (separate from the terms-of-service agreement) in which the user can provide directions for disclosure or nondisclosure. So, what to do? Your client can include a provision in his or her will or trust that grants power…

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