An increasingly important part of estate planning in the modern world involves a kind of property that does not exist in any physical sense. This type of property, known collectively as “digital assets,” includes a variety of personal assets that may make up a substantial part of a person’s estate. But what exactly are digital assets, and how are you supposed to make an estate plan around them?
Defining Digital Assets
As the name suggests, digital assets are any type of property that only exists in a digital format, either online or as a file in a computer. These assets, while not technically existing as physical objects, nevertheless often have real value, either in financial terms or in sentimental terms. It is thus important to understand how these assets might be divided up when you pass away.
Examples of Digital Assets
They are far more common than most people realize, and in some cases they may be the most valuable assets people possess. Some examples include:
- Files on your computer, including text documents, pictures, and videos.
- Websites, including all images, text, and videos posted to the site.
- Online account information, including usernames and passwords.
- Artistic creations, including any copyrighted or trademarked material.
- Records and marketing materials used for your personal business.
- Design specifications for projects, including any patented materials.
- 3D models or other digitally rendered objects.
- Computer programs, including work-related software or games.
Why is This Important?
Often, when people plan their estates, they only account for the most obvious assets they possess: their bank accounts, their homes, their personal vehicles, and some of their most valuable physical property. Digital assets often get overlooked. As a result, when a person dies without any direction about what will happen to these Digital Assets, it may falls to a loved one to go to court to determine how these assets will be distributed. This could result in unwanted persons inheriting those assets, due to the laws of inheritance.
How Can I Plan For Distribution of My Digital Assets?
If you have Digital Assets, or if you think you might come into possession of them, you should adjust your estate plan accordingly. However, making sure you handle everything properly will require legal guidance from someone with knowledge of estate law. Therefore, you should contact an estate law attorney as soon as possible to help you to create an estate plan that fits your needs.
Whether for yourself or for a loved one, estate and elder law planning can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing. The legal professionals at Hobson-Williams, P.C. will advise you on the options available to you, and help you establish a plan that best suits your needs. Call (718) 210-4744 or visit our contact page to speak to one of our attorneys and learn how Hobson-Williams, P.C. can help you gain the peace of mind that comes from being prepared for the future.