You may have a plan for what to do with your physical belongings after you die, but what about your online accounts?Read more
What Happens to Your Online Content When You Die?
- December 24th, 2014
More and more of the music, movies, and books we own exist only online, in digital form. What happens to these collections after the owner dies? Surprisingly, while you may want your heirs to have access to the books, music and films that you loved, without a physical copy these items cannot be easily passed down.
According to most user agreements with companies like Apple and Amazon, when you purchase digital content, you are only purchasing a license to use the content. This license does not give you the right to transfer the e-book or MP3 to anyone else -- even when you die. Instead, upon your death the contract expires and no one else has the right to access it.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...
Felinton Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers
Mindy Felinton concentrates in the areas of Medicaid planning, Veterans' Benefits, asset protection, nursing home planning, elder law, wills, estate planning, trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, probate administration and trust administration and began her legal career 30 years ago as an Assistant State Attorney...
Hammond and Associates, LLC, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate
For Jeffrey Hammond, the practice of Elder Law is personal. Jeff’s many years of experience in law and in business did not prepare him for the crisis he faced in 2005 and 2006 when his father suffered a stroke and both of his parents suffered from dementia and other medical problems. At that time, Jeff began an i...
There are no solutions to this issue yet. Although many states are starting to pass laws that deal with digital assets, most of these laws concern email and social media accounts, not digital content.
If you own a device that contains digital content, you can pass that device on to your heirs, but there is no guarantee the content will remain. You can also give your heirs access to your passwords so they can access your account. Some estate planners are suggesting that people set up a trust to purchase online content. If the trust owns the content, the contract won't expire when you do. However, these trusts have not been legally tested yet. Until the law catches up with technology, this is a legal gray area.
For more information about digital assets in the context of estate planning, click here.
Last Modified: 12/24/2014