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Davis Brown Tax Law Blog

Tax Law Blog: Do your Digital Assets have Value? Are they Important? - December 12, 2013

This post is the second in a four-part series about Digital Assets and estate planning. Read part 1, “What are Digital Assets?”.

Many people think that there is little financial value in our digital assets, and that is true in some instances. For example, photographs, blogs, videos, Facebook posts, tweets, and account records do not, by themselves, have significant value.  However, domain names often have value, sometimes quite significant value, and the advertising stream of income on some websites have value that an agent or executor should not disregard.

Other digital assets with value are often found in the gaming world, where individuals build up value with gaming success in a particular game. For example, the internet ‘currency,’ Bitcoin, may have significant value to some. Internet sales sites and websites have not only the potential for continued income, but also a possibility for liabilities, if there are obligations arising from those accounts.

In addition to the financial value, clients may want to consider the sentimental and historic value of their digital assets, such as photos and videos. Without attention to maintaining these assets, it is likely that the photographic records of our lives may be lost. On the other hand, with appropriate storage (and curating), those photographs and videos may be maintained for many years in the future.

Without written letters and documents, much of the historic information many have used, including historians and anthropologists, may be lost. If, however, we save our important emails, both incoming and outgoing, the information can be saved for posterity sake.

In the end, the issue of what you want to keep, what assets to which you want to give your agent or agents, and whether you want certain accounts maintained or shut down is up to you. Similar to you deciding who will receive your property, your money, your household goods and personal effects, you need to pay attention to the future of this new type of asset.