Digital Asset Trusts: To my loving wife I leave my iTunes account

April 6, 2012


Estate planning is an important event in one's life. The fruits of a life time of hard work, passed down in the hopes that they will serve their next owner well. But in this modern age we live in, online digital assets are frequently left out of the estate planning process.

Much of our the time we spend each day is on the internet. How much of your information and is floating out there on the internet Between Facebook, PayPal, Flickr, twitter, iTunes, email addresses, passwords, user names and passwords, we have a lot of information that is not readily available to others if we should become incapacitated or die. In this age of the internet what happens to all of that personal info when we finally shed our mortal coil and update our Facebook status to dead? Do we want to loose our Facebook account when we die? Once the status is updated to deceased, it cannot be modified, updated, or used for other purposes. It continues to exist, just as you left it, until the asteroid strikes earth, or the apes rise up, or whatever your favorite end of the word scenario is, ends up happening. There may be value to your family or estate in being able to communicate with your previous friends.

To some this is perfectly acceptable. Some Facebook albums just never need to be seen again, for the good of all mankind. The problem arises when there is something worth saving, something worth passing down. The picture of you two on graduation day, wedding photos, that blog about the summer you spent in Europe, or photographic proof of how much more attractive your grandma was at your age. The memories and happiness that these photos will bring your loved ones is immeasurable. There may be things that your family wants to remove or modify. Something that was important to you, which they can now keep close, fondly reflect on, or pass down themselves. The hitch is only you knew your log in info, and your dead, and those close to you can't guess the answer to your asinine password hint question. What is the name of my mother's favorite pet? Seriously.... she lived to a hundred and had 9 cats when she died. How am I supposed to guess that.

The problem of how to handle digital assets is new, but the solution on the other hand is not. The formation of a trust to manage your digital assets can insure that before you pass on, you can form a plan to you give those closest to you the tools to ensure that the virtual you, that online life you build, isn't quarantined in internet limbo, but safely in the care of those you choose.