According to a new report, new businesses are emerging that serve as “cyber undertakers,” promising to settle the affairs of the deceased pertaining to online assets. The “undertaker” clears away the cyber information that was left online when the person passed away. Part of the process involves helping families to identify the relevant digital information that may exist. This may include information relating to financial assets or liabilities. The undertaker then assists the estate administrator in closing down these online affairs, to the extent possible.
During the trust and estate administration process in California, it can be difficult for personal representatives and trustees to access the digital assets of the deceased. Each website has its own unique process and requirements for deleting or accessing accounts. Digital undertakers create lists of known passwords. The undertaker follows the standards set by websites to delete information. They also approach other websites and other portals to request removal of data where the deceased was not an account holder or user, but their data is being used.
Ideally, the will or trust of the deceased grants the power to the personal representative to access and remove online information during the estate administration in California. Even with this grant of authority, however, there may be instances in which a court order is required to gain copies of online information, delete information, or close accounts. The deceased’s online life may include countless materials containing thoughts, images, accounts, assets, and interactions. The process for truly deleting all of the information is extensive. Estate administrators must be aware of their responsibilities relating to online information and seek out assistance where it is necessary.
To learn more about this and other California estate administration matters, contact an Anaheim trust administration attorney today at (714) 459-5481.