Estate Planning Hints for Intangibles and Digital Assets

When it comes to transferring tangible assets, every state has statutes and mechanisms for administering estates, with or without a will. Intangible assets, like email, computer disks, web pages and blogs, are a different matter.


Advertisement


All Aboard the High-Velocity 2006 FRx Express! FRx Software has the engine fired up again to travel nationwide with timely training and expert guidance! Microsoft FRx and Microsoft Forecaster users, potential users and resellers don’t miss this FREE*, half-day event!

Once you’re on board, the FRx Software experts will help you gain tremendous insight into Microsoft FRx and Microsoft Forecaster. You’ll have the opportunity to hear customer perspectives and network with prospects plus pack in useful tips, and see the features and benefits of FRx Software’s financial analytic applications. Register now!


FRx Software Home Product Information
Training & Consulting Product Demo
Webcast Customer Testimonial Video



“When a person dies, for example, who inherits the computer files, the web pages, blogs and e-mails? More complicated yet, how are online bank accounts, stock holdings that exist entirely in digital media, or the rights to exclusively online business to be handled? The proliferation of online businesses and the world’s propensity for doing business means that digital holdings very often have considerable monetary value. What if nobody knows your passwords or your usernames? Do your digital assets just disappear into the ether? Can your online business be seized and sold to pay your creditors? These are important matters to consider in our modern times,” Ronald Hudkins of AssetProtectNow.com asks in a prepared statement.

Hudkins continues “The dynamic nature of Internet transactions makes their inclusion in a will eminently impractical. User names and passwords change, new businesses are created, new stocks are e-traded, and new e-mail accounts come into being. Changing a will, or adding a codicil, every time your online dealings change is not at all feasible.

“Even though the law governing digital assets is unclear, largely because it hasn’t’ been written, there are ways to protect those assets and make sure your heirs are able to locate and use them.

“First, keep a master list of all your online dealings, complete with URLs, user names and passwords,” Hudkins advises. “The list should include items like domain names, where they are registered, and when they need to be renewed to keep the business name and Internet location. Put this particular information on paper, and update it every time something new is added or something old deleted, and keep it in a safe place with your other important business papers, preferably is a safety container.

“Make sure your attorney or your estate executor is aware of the list, even if you don’t want it opened until after your death,” Hudkins continues. “Instruct your executor or attorney as to when the list is to become available to your heirs – for example in the case of serious illness in the event that someone needs to take care of online business transactions in your stead. Such instructions may or may not be legally binding, but chances are your instructions will be followed, as a matter of moral obligation.

“If you have a prosperous online business, online bank accounts, e-trade accounts, or other valuable digital assets, those need to be figured into your estate planning,” Hudkins says. “Otherwise, your heirs may be stuck with a messy situation and many unexpected expenses, or even legal challenges to deal with – problems that your estate planning was initially designed to protect against.”

You may like these other stories...

How are you planning? What tools do you use (or fail to use) for forecasting? PlanGuru is a business budgeting, forecasting, and performance review software company based in White Plains, N.Y. AccountingWEB recently spoke...
Event Date: October 30, 2014, 2 pm ETMany Excel users have a love-hate relationship with workbook links. For the uninitiated, workbook links allow you to connect one Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to other spreadsheets, Word...
Event Date: September 9, 2014, 2:00 pm ETIn this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office. Included will be:The networked office: connecting everything together for...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.
Aug 26
This webcast will include discussions of recently issued, commonly-applicable Accounting Standards Updates for non-public, non-governmental entities.
Aug 28
Excel spreadsheets are often akin to the American Wild West, where users can input anything they want into any worksheet cell. Excel's Data Validation feature allows you to restrict user inputs to selected choices, but there are many nuances to the feature that often trip users up.
Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.