It cannot be denied that technology pervades our lives. In this era of modern technology, we are more connected than ever to each other—on a global scale — through our smartphones, and the internet. We live much of our lives online: networking with professional contacts, staying in touch with friends on social media, paying our bills…
Largely unheard of ten years ago, this technological revolution of digital assets has changed more than just the way we live. It has changed how we plan for when we die. Digital assets have become an important part of estate planning.
What are Digital Assets?
While there is no one set definition, in general, a digital asset can be said to be something in digital form (picture, video, music, blog post, e-book etc.) that has value — either in and of itself (“intrinsic”) or acquired. Digital assets can be tangible things like:
- computers (laptops, tablets)
- flash drives
- e-book readers
Or they can be intangible things like:
- your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts,
- domain names, and more.
Digital assets have value — both monetary and sentimental.
Digital Planning and Estates.
Many people pay their bills online and store financial records, personal photographs, music and videos in “the cloud.” This fact has created new challenges for families when a loved one becomes incapacitated or dies.
First, each online service provider has its own terms of service. Frequently those terms do not allow a person to transfer their account or password to anyone else. Such restrictions pose challenges for heirs who may want to access the e-mail account of a deceased loved one to retrieve bills or necessary documents.
Second, the federal law creates privacy rights that protect the contents of certain electronic communications and files from disclosure by certain providers of electronic communication services or remote computing services. If the privacy protections of the Stored Communications Act apply, an online account service provider is prohibited from disclosing the contents of certain electronic communications and files unless an exception under the Act is met.
The result of all of this is that it is important for individuals to plan ahead for access to, or disclosure of, their online accounts and digital assets during incapacity or after death. Unless planned for, it is very likely that your digital assets will be terminated or forever lost when you die. Think about it: how would you feel if your thousands of Facebook, Instagram or Flickr pictures or those stored in the cloud were forever lost? Do you mind if your thousands of blogs and articles were lost to your followers?
Digital asset planning addresses the financial and sentimental considerations of your digital assets.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today!
If you want to provide for your digital assets as part of your Legacy Estate Plan, call us. We have offices in Sedona, Arizona. We serve Verde Valley and all of Arizona. We offer free consultations and we can help you with all your estate planning needs. Contact us to set up your free appointment.