Do your family members know what online accounts you have? Do they know how to handle them in case something were to happen to you?
More than likely, people don’t advertise to others about what digital assets they have or how those assets should be handled if something were to happen to them.
But dealing with digital assets after someone dies is becoming a challenge for families and loved ones. Family members can't just rifle through a desk anymore to find the accounts and assets because they’re mostly found online. And back in the days, pictures were carefully placed in photo albums and stored on bookshelves and coffee tables. But now, I’m sure most of you have photos stored on your smartphones, computer, or cloud storage.
Today, it’s becoming more important and necessary to plan ahead for access to your digital property (ie. passwords, online accounts, and electronically-stored information) and leave clearer instructions for your family members in your estate plan to handle your digital assets.
By creating a proper digital estate plan, you can help your family:
Here are some steps to take to get started on your digital estate plan:
We all have at least some social media accounts and digital assets in this digital age we live in. We have amassed an enormous collection of music, eBooks, photos, and videos. Especially with iTunes, we have downloaded hundreds and thousands of songs. In February 2013, Apple announced that it hit a milestone in sales - 25 billion songs had been downloaded. But can we give away our iTunes to someone else after we die or anytime? Each provider has their own terms and conditions so it’s best to review its policy to see whether our downloads are transferable or not. Here is an example of the terms from Apple iTunes.
A friend once told me she has over 9,000 iTunes songs and was very concerned about what she can do with her songs if she passes away (“Because that was a lot of money spent!” she says). Can we transfer iTunes to someone when we pass away? The legal answer is no. The Terms and Conditions specify that:
“The Mac App Store Products and App Store Products (collectively, “App Store Product(s)”) made available through the Mac App Store Service and App Store Service (collectively, “App Store Service(s)”) are licensed, not sold, to you.” (http://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/us/terms.html)
When we purchase a song on iTunes, according to the iTunes Terms and Conditions, we are given a license to use the song under certain restrictions, but we do not own a copy of it outright. In other words, we are just buying the right to listen to the song, but we do not actually own the song.The Terms and Conditions then state that a person “may not rent, lease, lend, sell, transfer, redistribute or sublicense the Licensed Application….” This means that we cannot let our friends, family, or beneficiaries use your iTunes music collection. The
About the Author
Christine Chung, Esq.