Michigan Attorneys Providing Excellence in Estate Planning and Elder Care

What Happens to Your Online Content When You Die?

More and more of the music, movies, and books we own exist only online, in digital form. Even money can now be stored online and sent as a monetary exchange. Now more than ever before, everything you owe can now be accessed with one click.

What happens to my digital content after I die?

Surprisingly, while you may want your heirs to have access to the books, music and films and everything you own, without a physical copy these items cannot be easily passed down. After your death, no one will be allowed to have access to your accounts. In this case, if you want your loved ones to have access to these collections, you may want to start thinking about planning what you want to do with your online content.

Types of Digital Content to Consider:

  • Music
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Documents
  • Social Media Accounts

Transfering All Your Digital Content to Someone You Trust

According to most user agreements with companies like Apple and Amazon, when you purchase digital content, you are only purchasing a license to use the content. This license does not give you the right to transfer the e-book or MP3 to anyone else -- even when you die. Instead, upon your death the contract expires and no one else has the right to access it.

Planning Ahead to Avoid Problems in the Future

There are no solutions to this issue yet. Although many states are starting to pass laws that deal with digital assets, most of these laws concern email and social media accounts, not digital content. You can make sure you give access to your accounts by including usernames and passwords in your will or a trust. So, it gives access to those you trust the most with your personal information.

Planning Your Digital Assets Ahead of Time

If you own a device that contains digital content, you can pass that device on to your heirs, but there is no guarantee the content will remain. You can also give your heirs access to your passwords so they can access your account.

Estate Planning Can Help You

Some estate planners are suggesting that people set up a trust to purchase online content. If the trust owns the content, the contract won't expire when you do. However, these trusts have not been legally tested yet. Until the law catches up with technology, this is a legal gray area.

In today’s modern age, every aspect of our life is now recorded in the digital world. If you have important information, such as photos, videos, films, music or anything you truly value and wish to one day give it to someone you love. Then, it may be important to back it up somewhere safe in a flash-drive and create an estate plan that will respect your wishes when you die.

Need legal advice? If you’re a Michigan resident and you have questions about estate planning, revocable trusts or need legal advice. Please contact our firm today or schedule a call here to speak with one of our team members.


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