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Drafting an estate plan? Don't forget about your digital assets

In today's world, some assets are not as tangible as they used to be. Those who live here in Silicon Valley realize that fortunes can be made entirely online, and that the web-based work of creative entrepreneurs may live on long after they are gone.

But many people fail to consider their "digital assets" when drafting an estate plan. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses how important it is to pass these things on, because many digital assets may have financial as well as sentimental value.

If you own and maintain a popular web domain or blog, for instance, you may wish to designate an heir for it in your will; particularly if this piece of digital "real estate" is financially profitable.

But what about other online services like Twitter, iTunes, Tumbler and similar websites? Many of these social media services are licensed only to the account holder and can't necessarily be transferred after the person's death. However, the license may be able to live on if it is placed in a trust rather than a will.

According to the article, perhaps the most important step is to put procedures in place that will allow your beneficiaries access to passwords, as well as ways to transfer ownership of accounts and assets tied to them.

Dealing with digital assets is somewhat new territory, so you might not want to take a do-it-yourself approach. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you figure out which digital assets should be passed on and how that can best be done.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Make Sure You Know Who Will Inherit Your Twitter Account," Arden Dale, Sept. 18, 2013

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