Yes, it has a funny name and no, it is not something you eat. California recently enacted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA). Digital assets are those types of assets that are accessed by tangible devices like computers, smartphones, or a server and can include email, digital photos and documents, etc. Custodians of digital assets are the companies that store the digital assets on their servers. This should be important to you because most everyone has digital assets in some form or another. Until this new legislation was enacted, the ability for fiduciaries (agents under powers of attorney, executors, trustees, etc.) to manage the digital assets for a deceased or incapacitated account holder or revocable or irrevocable trust was usually governed by the terms of service agreement provided by the custodian.

Effective January 1, 2017, a person may use an online tool to give direction to the custodian of digital assets regarding disclosure of those assets. Alternatively, a person may give direction regarding digital assets in a will, trust, or power of attorney. It is important to note that RUFADAA applies only if the user of the digital asset resides in California or resided in California at the time of his or her death. If you already have powers of attorney, a will, or a trust, now is a good time to dust off those documents and have them reviewed to ensure the documents are up to date with California law. If your documents do not mention digital assets or you do not have these documents, you should consider revising them or creating new ones, or using the offered online tool to give direction regarding your digital assets.  Anyone facing the above issues should contact the Chilina Law Firm or another California attorney who practices in the areas of estate planning, trust administration, or probate for more information.

Authored by Karen Chilina and Co-Authored by Greg Chilina

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