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Passing On a Digital Legacy – Who Gets Your Ebooks and MP3 Files?

By September 15, 2012Estate Planning

The world is becoming more and more digital.  We listen to music not from CDs, but from MP3 players.  We don’t read physical books, instead pulling out our Kindle or Nook to read – carrying a whole library in one device.  We purchase movies to download, write our journals online, social network online, and essentially create an entire digital legacy.

However, what happens when you die?  Physical items, such as shelves of books and drawers of DVDs are easy to pass on to your loved ones.  How do you pass on your ebooks, MP3s and downloaded films?  This is an area to which estate planning is only starting to venture.  The laws surrounding electronic assets are much different from those regarding physical ones.  When you purchase a book, CD or DVD, you have the rights to that item.  You can do with it as you wish and give it away as you choose.  However, when you purchase an electronic version, you do not receive the same rights or ownership to the item.  You essentially receive the rights only to use such items, many of which are determined as non-transferable.

An avid reader could have thousands of dollars in electronic books by the time they die.  What happens to those books?  A physical library would be passed on to loved ones.  Shouldn’t the electric versions be as well?

While there is currently no working method for passing on these types of assets, it is something that estate planning is moving towards.  As more and more people increase their digital assets, the court systems will have to discover a way where these assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries.  Only time will tell what the laws will dictate.

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

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