More and more often, people are purchasing digital assets. They are spending thousands of dollars on video games, music, ebooks, movies, TV shows and much more. These digital assets used to be sold in physical formats like CDs and DVDs. But they are now often being purchased online, and the buyer just streams or downloads the title, so the format is much different.
That said, it can become somewhat difficult when a person wants to put these digital assets in their estate plan. They may have spent tens of thousands of dollars building an intricate collection, the same way collectors build art collections. They want to pass it on to their children, but can they?
They may not even own the assets
One of the big questions to ask is whether or not the person even owns the assets they have purchased.
Many people buy movies, for instance, believing that they are purchasing the film. But the fine print will tell them that they’re actually purchasing a license. The streaming service that they purchased the movie from still owns the rights to that film. The buyer just has a lifetime license to watch the movie whenever they want, but they don’t own it.
On top of that, the contract will often stipulate that the license cannot be transferred to anyone else or shared with another individual. So while that person may be able to enjoy their collection while they’re alive, their ownership terminates with their own passing and those assets are lost.
Digital estate planning is just going to get more complex in the future, especially with financial assets such as cryptocurrency. It’s important for those who are working through this process to know what steps to take.