Kaplin Stewart

Storage and protection of digital assets in estate planning

The topic of digital assets has been covered in depth, both here and in the wider media. Often, the discussion has focused on preserving personal items, such as photos, so that one’s heirs can enjoy those assets once a loved one passes on. A recent article takes a different approach to digital assets and estate planning and considers how to handle online assets that have a considerable value. The topic may be of interest to many in Pennsylvania.

A prime example would be a photographer who has spent a lifetime amassing a body of work. Suppose that photographer has been selling images, either through direct sales, client assignments or via stock photography. The collected works of such an individual could be worth a considerable amount of money, and would likely be of interest to surviving loved ones.

Without the proper planning, family members can be left with little or no ability to access these types of digital assets. This means that they would also have no way to monetize such a collection or to determine how to address issues of marketing, storage or valuation. As with so many estate planning matters, the key to success is working with loved ones to inform them of the presence of such assets, as well as instructions on how to handle the eventual disposition of a collection of digital assets.

In addition, some families may choose to create a back-up storage source for valuable digital assets. This can take the form of an external hard drive, disks or even a removable stick drive. Regardless of how the assets are held, most Pennsylvania families are eager to learn more about how to address digital assets within the overall estate planning picture.

Source: brainerddispatch.com, “Commentary: Estate planning for digital assets“, Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, Nov. 13, 2015