Technology is constantly changing and more services are being offered online than ever before. As a result, many Massachusetts residents now have digital assets that they may want to include in their wills. Whether those assets consist of music files, e-books, Bitcoins or other digital property, some may want to pass these on to friends or loved ones when they die. Doing this may depend on the rules of the service providers, but having a digital estate plan may help.
With some service providers for music and e-books — iTunes is one example — users purchase the license to access the digital files rather than purchasing the files themselves. In many cases, this license is non-transferable. However, users can provide login information to heirs to enable them to access the account. Another possibility, at least for some types of music files, is to save them to a hard drive or computer for easier access.
For someone who owns Bitcoins, there are two ways to pass them on to heirs. One is to simply provide heirs with access information to the digital wallet where the Bitcoins are stored, though there is always the risk that the account may be hacked. Another method is to take them offline by storing the serial numbers that make up the Bitcoins in a safe at home or safe deposit box at the bank. However, this last method requires a bit of computer savvy.
A digital estate plan can name someone to handle these digital assets and others, including social media accounts, email and online photo albums. Individuals who do not include anything about these assets in their wills or other estate documents risk losing them forever. It may be helpful to consult someone familiar with estate planning laws in Massachusetts to ensure that these digital assets are passed on as intended.
Source: MarketWatch, How to give away your digital fortune, Andrea Coombes, Jan. 10, 2014