California law allows you to include digital assets in your estate plan. You can give an executor, trustee, administrator, or fiduciary authority the ability to access and modify your digital assets after your death.
Files are often forgotten about during the estate planning process, but they are important to consider. Think about the files on your laptop, smartphone, and other devices. Do you want anything deleted? You can designate a person you trust to delete these files for you. You could also prevent certain people from accessing your accounts.
If you have an account with your employer, then they own your account. You won’t be able to prevent their access to it in your estate planning.
Give specific access rights
Some people make the mistake of thinking that the executor automatically has access rights to their digital assets. However, this is not the case. In your estate plan, you need to specifically write that you are allowing them access to your specific digital accounts and files as well as what they can do with them after your death.
California recognizes access rights that the decedent granted through online tools like Facebook’s Legacy Manager and Google’s Inactive Account Manager. When no online tools exist to grant access to a particular account, a relative might gain access through the company’s terms of service. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to detail in your estate plan what access rights you want with each account, including when you don’t want someone to have access. When a family member isn’t able to log into your account through the terms of service, they could seek a court order unless you specifically stated that they aren’t to have access.
You should contemplate what you want to happen to your social media accounts, other online accounts, and files when you die. Go into detail in your estate plan what you want to be done so that family members and the court don’t make the decision for you.