With the use of technology by most people these days, it is becoming increasingly rare that a person dies without having some type of digital property in their estate.  Digital property includes, for example, cell phones and smart phones, email accounts, social media accounts, online document storage, and more. If you are named as a personal representative when someone dies, one of the first things you will need to do is take control of that person’s digital property in order to value it along with the other estate assets, protect such assets from identity or electronic theft, and preserve digital property that has a sentimental value.

As a personal representative, it is recommended that one of the first things you do is make a list of all digital property and get access and control of all of the digital property. This may include email accounts, online banking accounts, online credit card accounts, laptops, smart phones, web pages, blogs, social networking accounts, etc.  It is extremely helpful if the deceased person left you a list of all of their digital property.  Hopefully that list will include all required passwords. Chances are as a personal representative, however, you won’t be so lucky and you will be faced with the task of searching through paperwork, computers, and watching the mail.

As a person representative, you will need to notify email providers of the death. It is important to note that once you notify free email providers, you will need to act quickly to gather the email information stored with these providers as they will probably delete the email account and its history soon after notification of the death.

You should also shut down online purchasing accounts, such as PayPal, web bill pay, etc.

Finally, you should review any digital property of the deceased person which has value and try and obtain a value for it. You will need to determine if there is any income from web page or blog advertising, online account refunds, the value of domain names, unused credit card travel awards, etc.

A deceased person’s digital property is just one piece of the puzzle in administering a deceased person’s estate. As you can see, there are numerous actions which must be taken within a relatively short time period. Anyone faced with administering an estate and is unsure how to proceed or what needs to be done should contact Chilina Law Firm or another California law firm practicing in the areas of estate planning, probate, and trust administration for further information.

Authored by Greg Chilina and Co-Authored by Karen Chilina

Chilina Law Firm, a Professional Corporation, is a full-service estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, and real property law firm that provides a wide-range of advising, transactional, and litigation services to its clients from its office located in Atascadero, California. The firm’s attorneys represent individuals and business entities in an assortment of transactional and litigation matters involving estate planning (including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives), probate, trust administration, as well as general business law, contracts, corporate governance, land use, and real property. Chilina Law can be contacted by telephone at (805) 538-5038 or by email at info@chilinalaw.com or visit the Chilina Law Firm at www.chilinalaw.com. Chilina Law Firm is based in Atascadero, California and serves North San Luis Obispo County communities, including Santa Margarita, Atascadero, Templeton, Paso Robles, and San Miguel.

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