When developing a comprehensive estate plan, individuals automatically consider the distribution of cherished physical assets. Property such as a family home, business and vehicles as well as sentimental items such as a prized book collection or a watch handed down through four generations are immediately added to a will with thoughtfully determined heirs. Unfortunately, there is an entire category of assets that individuals often ignore.
In the last decade, people have started placing greater significance on these online properties. While they largely represent intangible assets, digital property can be worth tens of thousands of dollars and carry unexpected sentimental value. Common examples of digital assets can include:
- Entertainment collections: Nearly all newly-released movies include a digital code to download the film to a server accessed through your electronic devices. Similarly, many people now simply download music, books and videogames rather than cart around a physical copy of these items. These collections can quickly grow to hold thousands of hours of entertainment.
- Online storefronts: Whether it is on eBay or Marketplace, individuals often lovingly curate a digital store through which they can sell items and display creative works. Just like a brick-and-mortar storefront, people will want to pass the benefit of this hard work down to a new generation.
- General web presence: From blogs and social media to image hosting and video repositories, individuals now take great pains to keep in contact with friends and family through websites. Your will should specify who will gain control of these websites after you pass. It is also wise to leave instructions regarding login information and explicit written authorization for your heir to now control these sites.
It can be challenging to develop a comprehensive estate plan without the guidance of an experienced attorney. It is not uncommon for people to attempt to draft a will, trust or power of attorney only to forget various contingencies or overlook specific state requirements. When considering your end of life decisions, do not hesitate to seek representation.