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What is the impact of digital assets on probate?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Probate |

The impact of digital assets on estate plans has grown significantly as more people use the Internet for banking, investing and social interactions.

In Georgia, digital assets require special consideration during probate.

Understanding digital assets

Digital assets include online bank accounts, social media profiles, email accounts, digital photos and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. These assets can hold monetary or sentimental value. During probate, the executor must locate and manage these assets, ensuring their proper distribution according to the deceased person’s will or Georgia’s intestate laws if there is no will.

Accessing digital assets

Accessing digital assets can be challenging. Many online services have strict privacy policies that prevent unauthorized access. Executors need to provide necessary documents, such as the death certificate and proof of their authority, to gain access. It is helpful if the deceased left detailed instructions about their digital assets, including usernames and passwords. Without this information, the process can become complicated and time-consuming.


Cryptocurrencies present unique challenges in probate. Unlike traditional bank accounts, cryptocurrencies do not have a central authority to contact for access. Cryptocurrencies are stored in digital wallets protected by private keys. If one loses the private key, the cryptocurrency is usually unrecoverable. Executors must find the private key or any recovery phrases to access and transfer the digital currency.

Legal considerations

Georgia law recognizes digital assets in probate. The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act allows fiduciaries to manage digital assets. This law gives executors the authority to access digital assets, but they must follow specific procedures to comply with privacy laws and service agreements. The law also allows individuals to specify how they want their digital assets handled after death, which can simplify the probate process.

Planning for digital assets

Proper planning can ease the handling of digital assets during probate. Individuals should create a digital estate plan that includes a list of their digital assets, instructions for accessing them and their wishes for each asset. This plan should be stored securely but made accessible to the executor. Using digital estate planning tools can also help organize and manage digital assets efficiently.

Proper planning and understanding of relevant laws can streamline the probate process. Addressing digital assets in estate planning ensures that these valuable components of modern life are appropriately managed and distributed according to the deceased person’s wishes.


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