As technology continues to develop, more and more people acquire digital assets. For instance, someone in the 1980s may have had a massive collection of cassette tapes, records or video tapes. Someone in the 1990s may have had a collection of CDs and DVDs. But today, much of this type of media is purchased in a digital format.
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t expensive. It’s just a different type of asset. If you have purchased these types of products, especially if you have invested thousands of dollars in a large collection, you may be wondering if you can put them in your estate plan. People have certainly done this with physical media in the past.
Do you actually own that media?
If you do own the media, you may be able to include it in your estate plan. You can put in your well that someone is supposed to have a hard drive, full of movies or song files.
But the problem is often that you don’t actually own that media, even if you believe that you do. Many of the companies that sell digital products will include in the small print that you are not actually purchasing the product itself. Instead, the price you pay is for a lifetime subscription to use that product. You’re allowed to access it forever, but the company still owns it.
This often means that you cannot put it in an estate plan. You can’t transfer your subscription, because that is prohibited by the terms of the agreement.
Digital estate planning can be complicated, and it’s only going to become more complex as technology keeps developing. It’s crucial that people know exactly what steps they can take and what legal options they have.