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Digital estate planning can be hard, but not impossible

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2019 | Estate Planning

Louisiana consumers might not think much about purchasing e-books, digital movies or songs from the internet. Digital technology and property is just another aspect of modern living. But how should people include favorite movies and books in their wills when that property is stored digitally? This estate planning task is harder than most people might think.

After making a digital purchase, a person might reasonably expect that he or she can treat the property much like a physical purchase. However, many terms of service agreements prevent people from doing certain things with digital property. A commonly overlooked topic in many TOSAs is account control outside of the original owner. Many TOSAs prevent anyone other than the original owner from controlling an account or asset. This means that passing on an e-book library to an heir could actually be quite difficult if not impossible.

But what about digital assets, property and information that a person never actually purchased? These are things like accounts for social media, cloud photo storage and other online activity. It is a good idea to list usernames, passwords and designated individuals to access these various accounts in wills, but it is not always enough. Again, TOSAs often prevent anyone other than the account owner from logging in, even if that individual has the correct information and permission. Reviewing TOSAs for important accounts can help people determine the best approach for estate planning, and many websites even offer options for allowing a designated individual access upon the owner’s death.

Traditional approaches for estate planning might not always be suitable for unconventional property. Digital books and online accounts present unique challenges in this area, and Louisiana residents might struggle to address these hurdles. Rather than risk making an error, some people prefer to speak with an experienced attorney about their options.