Estate Planning in the Digital Age— An Overview of Digital Assets
It’s not an understatement to say that in this day and age, everything is at the mercy of a screen. With more and more people living their lives online, this is no longer a debate. We start our days by tapping into our online personas on social media and we share our thoughts with.
In reaction to this, estate planning in Queens and all over the world includes words such as intellectual property, online property, and digital assets. In fact, I have one million coins on Zynga poker.
Jokes aside, there is a rising need for estate planning that also deals with your virtual life. Who will get access to your Facebook account when you’re not around? Here’s an introduction to estate planning in the digital age.
What Counts as Digital Property?
Let’s start by understanding what counts as digital property. For the sake of description, we’ll break it down into your personal digital property, property with monetary value, and your business digital property. We’ll get down and dirty with details soon enough.
In your personal digital property, you can include physical hardware as well. Even though these pieces of equipment are physically present, for all purposes legal, it can be considered digital. Your information can be accessed through these devices, and estate planning covers that possibility. This includes hardware such as your cell phone, your e-watch, electronic readers, camera, music players and other devices. Your personal digital property also includes any information that is online, whether on a server or a cloud or a hard drive.
Next, all your online accounts, everything from email inboxes to social media accounts, are included in this category. The photos and videos you uploaded, your gaming accounts, cloud or storage, and websites or blogs you may be the owner of—it’s all your digital property.
Any domain names you may have bought, intellectual property, copyrights and trademarks, and any code you wrote are all your digital assets.
Another category of digital assets is the kind that generates revenue. Let’s be honest, your Twitter fame is not going to bring in that cash you always thought it would. Unlike that, some digital property can bring in the big money.
The hardware part is pretty obvious. If you sell a mobile phone, even without the data on it, it’s still going to bring in money. The same goes for all your other electronic devices. Besides that, any digital avenue you may have set up could generate revenue for you. This includes websites or blogs, any kind of art you may have uploaded (photos, music, eBooks, poetry or other intellectual property). You may have set up accounts to manage your money or manage your credit, some loyalty reward program, or a domain name that has resale value.
Another category of digital assets is your business-related property online. This would include anything that has your business’s name as the owner. Digital properties, online accounts, online stores or those on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon—all of these, if registered under the name of your LLC, are digital business properties. You could also include newsletters, mailing lists, or any client information and history in these assets if you so wish.
E-Information and Data
You may be wondering, with all this talk about intellectual property, what is it? Well, any information that you store on a digital platform counts. It can be in the form of words or pictures or images, they could be enclosed in emails or direct messages—if it is online and you put it there, it is your intellectual and digital property. It doesn’t have to be sensitive information like legal or medical documents, it can be any information stored by you on a web server.
What Happens to My Online Accounts?
When you create an account on a forum, they ask you for all sorts of personal information. But that’s not the only problem. If we update them regularly, our social media accounts have tons of information about us. All this info, including our passwords and email addresses, belongs solely to us. Your Facebook page, Twitter Account, and every image you posted on Pinterest counts as your digital property.
Many websites have their own policies about who gets access to an account one the original user has passed away. But the law is quickly catching up with the times and asserting its authority. A few years ago, 39 states signed a reform that allowed people to specify in their will whether the executor of their estate is allowed to access their digital profiles when they pass away.
So what happens to your social media accounts when you are no longer alive? This is why you need a good estate planning attorney in Queens to sort it out!