Last week [Aug. 27 - 31] there were several articles which brought light to many that our online identities are just licenses which will expire upon out death. While this concept is new to some, most lawyers understand this. Unfortunately there appear to be some who do not understand that we are dealing with licenses which expire upon death, because they are recommending that their clients deal with these assets using a traditional will. While they understand that a will only deals with assets that exist after death, they probably do not understand that your iTunes , Amazon , Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter accounts are licenses, which if owned individually, will not survive the death of the creator.
A Trust or Business entity can survive death! They are fictitious entities which are created by state statutes which do not have to dissolve upon death. A trust generally has provisions for beneficiaries unlike a business entity.
Last weekend the Wall Street Journal and several other publications ran articles on Who inherits your iTunes account? Over the weekend there were several stories in the UK and Australia about Bruce Willis and his massive iTunes account with 80,000 or so songs. Today it is being reported that Bruce has no plans on suing Apple Computer over his iTunes account.
While your Amazon and iTunes accounts may be the most popular and have the most perceived value to people, it is often their other accounts that make more sense to try to protect in a DAPTrust.
If your mortgage goes to your email account and you die or become incapacitated, who will know who or how much to pay? Will they know soon enough to save your home from foreclosure, or will you incur thousands of dollars in legal fees because you signed up for electronic billing?
Will your family have the right to access your digital photos? Can you family realize value in your Facebook, or Twitter accounts to contact your "Friends" on your behalf to let them know of your illness, condition, or passing? Could your family benefit financially by allowing others to contact your "Friends" who may be aligned similarly in business?
While the iTunes angle is appealing, the other reasons are the real reasons one should plan to deal with his or her Digital Assets. Ensuring that you children can listen to your older outdated music is a nice thought, but can you remember the last time you pulled out one of your parents records or tapes to listen to it.
If you are interested in planning for your Digital Assets you might consider talking with an estate planning professional about a Digital Asset Trust - DAPTrust.com
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