Digital Power Of Attorney 101

Laguna Niguel, estate planning attorney

Accessing a deceased loved one’s cell phone and online accounts can present a serious problem if you aren’t prepared. If you don't have a legal plan, you will have to deal with many different companies to gain access to someone's digital accounts. A Laguna Niguel, estate planning attorney can help you assign a digital power of attorney so that your loved ones can get fast, easy access to your digital assets when necessary.

Most of us have heard stories of family members who can’t unlock a loved one’s phone, email account, or another important digital asset with invaluable information like photos and texts with the last people they reached out to. These situations can make it difficult for a deceased person's estate to be settled financially and socially. 

Our legal team at Parker Law Offices can help you navigate the issues surrounding digital inheritances. 

What Is Power Of Attorney?

Power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person the legal right to act on behalf of another person. The person who has the power to act is often called the agent. Power of attorney is most often used when a person is incapacitated, and it can allow the agent to make medical, financial, or legal decisions on their behalf. 

It’s also possible to use power of attorney to give someone the legal right to access your digital assets. In a private memo, you can disclose all your essential account information, like passwords and usernames for different accounts. 

Types Of Power Of Attorney

There are many different types of power of attorney for different situations, including finances and healthcare.

  • Limited power of attorney - limits the agent’s power to one area or limits what the agent can do. 
  • General power of attorney - extends the agent’s power to all areas, including the right to handle bank accounts sell property, among others.

Executing The Power Of Attorney

Power of attorney is designed to allow a trusted person to manage a disabled or incapacitated person’s affairs. That means that even if you fall ill or get into an accident, the agent can manage your finances and maintain important payments on your behalf. 

When it comes to digital assets, you can ask the agent to post to social media accounts, answer emails, or handle online payments. You may even want to cancel payments for things like streaming services that you won’t be using. 

An attorney can help you draft an agreement that fits your particular needs. When it comes to a digital power of attorney, you can name the specific assets you want your agent to access, and prevent them from managing other assets.

What Are Digital Assets?

Digital assets include all kinds of digital property. Most people store quite a bit of important information online and use online accounts for important tasks like paying bills, not to mention socializing. 

Digital assets include items with monetary value, like cryptocurrency, website domains, and financial accounts. However, social media accounts, websites, and even media files are also included. That includes personal photos and videos, along with digital correspondence. 

While a Pinterest board or streaming account may not be a priority, other accounts could prove important to your family and friends.

Not only do digital assets have important practical effects on your life, but they may also hold sentimental value for your loved ones. By accessing your phone or cloud drives, they’ll be able to find old favorite pictures and important correspondence. Many people store photos digitally instead of physically these days, and losing the files could mean losing them altogether.

Using A Trust To Manage Digital Assets

If you hope to share your digital assets with people after you pass away, one option is to add them as beneficiaries of a trust. If you’re searching for the right trust attorney, Orange County is where our legal team can set up a trust according to your specifications. Our attorneys will make it easy for your beneficiaries to gain access to the digital assets you want to share with them. 

By choosing this option, you are able to control what your beneficiaries can access and when they can access it. An attorney can add a provision to your documents granting digital power of attorney, which allows the surviving trustees access to password-protected accounts and electronic devices. 

The provision can include the following:

  • Locked cell phones
  • Locked laptops
  • Email accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Cryptocurrency accounts

What Are The Benefits Of Digital Power Of Attorney?

After a loved one passes away, you often have to deal with the stress of settling their affairs on top of grieving. One of the benefits of estate planning is that you can reduce the stress your family faces and make things easy for them as they process your death. 

With the switch to digital payments, correspondence methods, and even types of currency, it can be more challenging than ever to pay off bills and close accounts. Many internet companies still prioritize customer privacy over everything else, making it tough to convince them to allow you into a deceased person’s account. 

Laws regarding privacy and digital inheritance are still developing, but you can avoid some hassle by simply using a trust or other estate planning methods to give access to your beneficiaries. 

By planning for your most important digital assets, you can save your loved ones many headaches and hours spent dealing with red tape. This way, they’ll be able to inherit your assets and thus get into your accounts with ease. 

Including digital assets in your estate planning makes it easier for your beneficiaries to keep track of them and prevents the loss of things such as Paypal account funds or crypto wallets that could otherwise be overlooked. 

Reach Out To Parker Law Offices

Our legal team can add a provision to your trust specifically designed to give your beneficiaries the legal right to access your accounts. We can also help you determine which service providers, such as social media websites or banks, have their systems for declaring beneficiaries. 
Contact Parker Law Offices today to schedule a consultation and learn more about dealing with digital assets!

Maria Parker assists her clients plan for their end of life health care wishes and the ultimate distribution of their wealth after death. She personally experienced the importance of planning at the time her father passed away.

Contact Us

If you have any questions and would like to make an appointment for a consultation, fill out the form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
Estate Planning Attorney in Orange County, CA
Wills & Trusts, Estate & Trust Administration, Probate, and Health Care Power of Attorney
© 2024 Estate And Trust Lawyer. All Rights Reserved.