With the introduction of the Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act in effect as of January 1, 2020, new and big changes have been made that affect one large aspect of retirement accounts: the payout process for beneficiaries. Previously, those who inherited someone’s retirement account were able to spread withdrawals from the account over the course of their lifetime. However, under the SECURE Act, beneficiaries are now required to withdraw all funds from an account within a 10 year period.
With the COVID-19 pandemic at large and death rates continuing to rise, the US now has more known cases than both China and Italy. During this current crisis, it’s best to remain calm and use this “stay well at home” time to do things you’ve been putting off. One such thing that may be worth considering during this unprecedented situation is setting up an estate plan.
In this modern age, our digital life has become almost as important as our normal everyday lives. Our online accounts, emails, social media profiles and digital subscriptions are all a part of our daily routines, so it’s natural to think about what will happen to them when you pass away. An estate planning attorney can help you navigate through the complicated online user agreements and laws that may restrict how others can be in control of your account through your estate plans.
Early last year, California passed the Revised Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which allows trustees and executors to obtain disclosure of someone’s digital assets after the primary user’s death under specific conditions. Before this law, it was very difficult for executors and trustees to obtain access to digital accounts without a court order.
This new law allows for a requirement of prior consent before disclosing this important information. It also made it easier for executors and trustees to prove that the decedent had consented to the disclosure, which allowed them to have access to the digital information.
What’s Included in My Digital Life?
Your digital life can include:
- Email accounts
- Social network profiles
- Blogging sites
- Photo-sharing sites
- Shopping accounts
- Banking and bill-payment accounts
How Can I Ensure My Digital Accounts Are Protected Now?
- Take inventory of all the accounts and websites listed above. For each account, make sure you state the login and password information in your estate plans, as well as any answers to “secret” questions.
- Write down where you have stored this information and the master password needed to gain access to it. Place this information in a safety deposit box or with your estate planning attorney.
- Consider drafting and signing a statement that authorizes the companies that hold your digital information to disclose that information to your executor or another representative of your estate. You can draft this with your estate planning attorney as well.
- Update your will with pertinent information related to your digital assets.
If you have any more questions about what should belong in your estate plans, contact an estate planning attorney at Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman, APC today.