Estate Planning for Your Digital Assets
With the upcoming arrival of their first child, Jeremy and Erin consulted an estate planning attorney to discuss their estate plan including the disposition of their personal possessions, property and investments. They were surprised when their lawyer asked them to consider the extent and nature of their digital assets as well.
While a digital presence can vary significantly in scope and in economic value, most individuals have at least an email address. Jeremy and Erin’s lawyer encouraged them to consider if they had any email transmissions they might wish to share with beneficiaries, whether it be an important financial document or an email message of particular emotional significance. Their lawyer explained that, just like physical assets, the distribution of those documents and emails could be managed according to their wishes as part of their asset disposition.
Like most young professionals, Jeremy and Erin’s digital presence goes beyond an just email account. Both of them have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest, among others. With the increasing trend of posting photos and videos online and the decline of printed photo albums and home video tapes or DVDs, many of their family photos that would otherwise be considered physical assets, only exist in digital formats either on an online social media account or on the hard drive of their smartphones, computers or tablets. They realized how important it was to consider which of these digital assets they wanted to preserve and how they wanted them distributed to beneficiaries.
Jeremy and Erin were also encouraged by their estate planning attorney to consider their digital music and movie collections since media collections purchased through services such as iTunes can potentially hold significant monetary value. They also considered the value in the domain names they owned as well as in their digital currency like Bitcoin.
Estate planning can be complicated so be sure to consult with a trusted estate planning attorney to assist you. Like Jeremy and Erin, while you go through the process of evaluating your assets and deciding how you want them to be distributed, don’t forget to include your digital assets so you can instruct your attorney which of them you want to preserve and how you want them to be distributed.
We can help you plan for the future. To discuss your specific needs and find out how our estate planning attorneys in Pittsburgh can help you, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412-254-8533 or contact us online.