Death notice: In Delaware your social media accounts now go to your heirs

Death notice: In Delaware your social media accounts now go to your heirs

In what has become a literal battle of wills, Delaware recently become one of the first states in the union to grant families’ access rights to the digital assets of their deceased and incapacitated loved ones.

Under House Bill 345, Delaware residents digital legacies will be treated the same as the physical assets, documents and records left for their heirs and executors to handle after their deaths. The new law represents the first comprehensive state statute dealing with the disposition of a decedent’s digital assets in the nation, according to Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s website. Eighteen or so states have enacted or are looking to enact at least some digital death provisions but Delaware’s is believed to be one of the more comprehensive so far, according to experts.

“More and more frequently, attorneys and survivors are finding it difficult or impossible to access and manage the online accounts and assets of the decedents whose estates they’re responsible for settling. Often, the user agreements for websites and other digital services stipulate that no person other than the user is entitled to access his or her accounts,” the site states.

Working in conjunction with expert attorneys from the Uniform Law Commission and the Estates and Trusts Section of the Delaware State Bar Association, Rep. Darryl Scott drafted this bill after talking with a constituent in his district who was refused access to an email account held by her late husband. Even though his will named her as the executor of the estate, the email service provider would not allow her to sign into the email account to access important billing notices and financial communications. Instead, the provider deleted the deceased’s account and all its stored information, never allowing the content to be reviewed.

A good overview of the legislation’s impact was written by Stateline, the state government blog run by the Pew Charitable Trusts, prior to the bill’s approval. From the Stateline story:

If the Delaware measure becomes law, it would supersede any “terms of service” agreements that users have with Internet and social media providers. However, if a person specifies in a separate online tool, such as Google’s “inactive account manager” that he wants emails deleted or transferred to a particular person after a period of inactivity, that would take precedence.

“We put in provisions that prohibit the tech companies from making the choice for you. They can’t, in their service agreement, say that upon your death, we’re going to delete your account,” said Democratic state Rep. Darryl Scott, who co-sponsored the legislation and worked with the state’s bar association to get it passed. “We were trying to restore control to the family to make those decisions, just as they do with many other things, like journals and letters and safety deposit boxes.”

Delaware’s bill is similar to a model law endorsed recently by the Uniform Law Commission, a nonprofit organization of lawyers, including legislators and judges, appointed by each state government. The group researches and drafts standardized state laws that can then be considered by legislatures.

Benjamin Orzeske, the commission’s legislative counsel, said the group spent two years working on the digital assets proposal, and he thinks it will be introduced in about a dozen states next year. “This law isn’t changing the level of privacy,” Orzeske said. “It’s just making it media neutral, whether it’s on paper or online.”

Learn How Your Digital Assets Can Be Bequeathed

Learn How Your Digital Assets Can Be Bequeathed

More and more individuals and corporations are relying heavily on Web-based environments to engage in business. From simple, lead-generating Web pages for small businesses to blogs that have multiple streams of revenue such as affiliate activity and sponsored posts, the ways in which we use the Web in association with our for-profit endeavors are almost endless. Today we are going to visit the processes associated with the transfer of for-profit digital assets as part of a legacy or inheritance.

Learn more about creating a digital estate plan.

If any of your revenue or business interactions are intertwined with a Web page, then it is essential that you take the necessary steps to ensure continuity for your customers as well as access to revenue opportunities for your heirs. If your business or blog is relatively small, then you may be able to keep it under your personal name as private property, without resorting to creating a limited-liability corporation. If, on the other hand, your business involves several individuals such as employees to whom you have payroll obligations, then you may want to consider creating an LLC with several individuals having joint ownership, if applicable, to ensure continuity in the case of your death.

Regardless of the size or complexity of your Web pages, there are steps you can take to make sure those you love and those who depend on your Web pages continue to have access to functions and digital assets. This will enable them to manage your digital resources immediately after your death, and move forward when decisions are made based on your testament as to whom should manage your digital assets.

Audit All Your for-Profit Digital Interactions
Set time aside to step back and identify your digital assets that may have an impact on businesses or revenue streams after you die. This may include active, inactive, or parked domains associated with websites representing brick-and-mortar businesses, or businesses that are fully online. Once you have identified the totality of your for-profit digital assets, create a list with passwords and validation questions associated with your profiles as well as the email and password principally used for business communications for each domain. Don’t neglect to document more obscure passwords such as cPanel and database passwords. Your heirs, executors, or agents should be able to access the hosting company as well as CMS platforms such as WordPress. Note that each has a separate password as well as a different way of validating when you have placed two-factor authentication processes.

Discuss Your Vision and Totality of Digital Assets with a Trusted Party
Discuss Your Vision and Totality of Digital Assets with a Trusted Party

Discuss Your Vision and Totality of Digital Assets with a Trusted Party
Assume the best and plan for the worst. If you have selected an individual to manage your affairs after your death, then discuss the intricacies of your digital assets. Make sure he or she is familiar with external revenue streams such as affiliate marketing and Google advertising. Meet with certain frequency to ensure the person tasked with handling your affairs after your death has the latest and greatest in terms of strategy and revenue sources.

Seriously Consider Creating an LLC
Having a limited-liability corporation as owner of your digital assets can be of significant advantage when it comes to creating continuity after you die. While giving someone your password can certainly facilitate access in some situations, it is illegal for another to “impersonate” you when accessing certain digital assets. For this reason, an LLC is a perfect solution to protect all stakeholders and heirs and guarantee seamless transfer of assets.

Become Familiar with the Terms of Service
You know you won’t live forever. As you enter into contracts associated with your digital assets and digital streams of revenue, take time to read and understand the terms of service. By understanding the conditions associated with your digital assets, you will be able to better prepare, should something happen to you.

By maintaining an online and offline location with all of the information pertaining to your digital assets, you’ll ensure continutity in business should something happen to you.
By maintaining an online and offline location with all of the information pertaining to your digital assets, you’ll ensure continutity in business should something happen to you.

Centralize Your Access Information
Create both an online and offline centralized and updated location with all of the information pertaining to your digital assets. Update it often, and discuss with stakeholders what it would take to access the information and ensure continuity in business.

Take a look at our newest solution, Estate Assist’s Safe.

Finally, if you are a service provider, take the necessary steps to ensure continuity in service to your customers. Maintain updated customer lists, and create procedures designed to ensure your representative handles his or her matters in a professional and timely manner.

What Makes up Your Digital Estate?

Rep. Scott’s first-in-nation digital assets bill becomes law

DOVER – Gov. Jack Markell today signed legislation sponsored by Rep. Darryl Scott that will ensure families’ rights to access the digital assets of their deceased and incapacitated loved ones, in accordance with their wishes.

Under House Bill 345, Delawareans’ digital legacies will be treated the same as the physical assets, documents and records left for their heirs and executors to handle after their deaths. The new law represents the first comprehensive state statute dealing with the disposition of a decedent’s digital assets in the nation.

More and more frequently, attorneys and survivors are finding it difficult or impossible to access and manage the online accounts and assets of the decedents whose estates they’re responsible for settling. Often, the user agreements for websites and other digital services stipulate that no person other than the user is entitled to access his or her accounts.

“This problem is an example of something we see all the time in our high-tech age – our laws simply haven’t kept up with advancements in technology,” said Rep. Scott, D-Dover. “By signing this bill into law, we’re helping to protect the rights and interests of the average person in the face of a rapidly evolving digital world.”

Working in conjunction with expert attorneys from the Uniform Law Commission and the Estates and Trusts Section of the Delaware State Bar Association, Rep. Scott drafted this bill after talking with a constituent in his district who was refused access to an email account held by her late husband. Even though his will named her as the executor of the estate, the email service provider would not allow her to sign into the email account to access important billing notices and financial communications. Instead, the provider deleted the deceased’s account and all its stored information, never allowing the content to be reviewed.

“As we conduct more of our professional and personal business online, we must also change our laws to match the reality of how people live in the 21st Century,” said Gov. Markell. “This legislation will help our laws keep pace with changing technology and forms of communication.”

According to the new law, digital assets such as email, cloud storage, social media accounts, health records, content licenses, databases and more are deemed a part of a person’s estate upon death, and the entities who control access to those assets are required to provide the legal executor with control over the deceased’s digital assets. The legislation also applies in cases where a person becomes incapacitated and his or her assets come under the control of a fiduciary.

Now, a website or a company in control of a decedent’s digital assets is required to treat the legal fiduciary of that person’s estate the same as they would have treated the decedent during life. That means they are obliged to provide whatever username, login and password information necessary to access the decedent’s accounts, unless the user specifically directed that the account not be accessible in the event of death or incapacitation.

Last month, the Uniform Law Commission voted at its annual conference to endorse the model Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which is virtually identical to House Bill 345. Members of the ULC now will present the model legislation to state lawmakers across the country for consideration.

Is Your Digital Life Ready for Your Death?

State-by-State Digital Estate Planning Laws

Though most Americans have a substantial amount of “digital property” or “digital assets” (such as email accounts, social media accounts, and blogs), federal legislation regarding digital property does not yet exist. Most states rely on the particular terms of service or privacy policy of the service that manages the asset (such as Gmail, Facebook, or Tumblr) to determine what should be done with the particular asset when the owner dies.

That said, some states have stepped in to create laws that will protect people’s digital assets and give the person’s family the right to access and manage those accounts after the owner has died. If your state is not listed below, that means that your state has not yet passed laws to address these issues. As always, it’s a good idea to consult a licensed estate attorney in your state to get a better sense of your state’s laws, and how you can create a digital estate plan in your state.

Alabama

No legislation.

Alaska

No legislation.

Arizona

No legislation.

Arkansas

No legislation.

California

No legislation.

Colorado

No legislation.

Connecticut

Law: SB 262 Public Act No. 05-136
Description: Executors may access email accounts. The state requires a death certificate and documentation of the executor’s appointment before the estate’s representative can see the deceased person’s emails or social networking accounts.
Effective October 1, 2005

Delaware

Law: Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act – House Bill # 345 w/HA 1 + SA 1
Description: Upon written request, “fiduciaries” (i.e. Power of Attorney, Executor, Trustee, otherwise authorized individual) are granted access and control of the digital assets and digital accounts of an incapacitated or deceased person. This includes every digital asset currently in existence (email, social media accounts, online shopping, photos, videos, etc…) and ones that have yet to be invented. Once the digital service provider (“custodian”) receives a written request along with certified proof (letter of testamentary or administration, court order, Power of Attorney form, Trust instrument) they must provide access to transfer, copy, or destroy the account.
Status: Passed June 30, 2014; Effective January 1, 2015
(Click here for the full text of the Bill)

District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)

No legislation.

Florida

No legislation.

Georgia

No legislation.

Hawaii

No legislation.

Idaho

Law: SB 1044
Description: Executors may access email accounts, social networking accounts, blogging and micro-blogging accounts, and short message services (text messages). A will or court order can restrict access to accounts.
Status: Effective July 1, 2011

Illinois

No legislation.

Indiana

Law: Indiana Code 29-1-13 (SB 0212, 2007)
Description: Executors may access email accounts, social networking accounts, blogging and micro-blogging accounts, and short message services (text messages). The state requires a death certificate and documentation of the executor’s appointment before the estate’s representative can see the deceased person’s emails or social networking accounts.
Status: Effective July 1, 2007

Iowa

No legislation.

Kansas

No legislation.

Kentucky

No legislation.

Louisiana

No legislation.

Maine

Proposed law: LD 850 (HP 601)
Description: To Study the Issue of Inheritance of Digital Assets
Date introduced: March 5, 2013
Status: Passed May 21, 2013
Note: LD 850 (HP 601) is not a law governing estate administration. LD 850 (HP 601) is to study the issues involved in digital assets. To see the full text of the proposal, click here.

Maryland

Proposed law: SB 0029: Estates and Trusts – Personal Representative – Administration of Internet-Based Accounts
Description: Authorizing a personal representative to take control of, conduct, continue, or terminate an account of a decedent on a social networking Web site, micro-blogging or short message service website, or electronic mail service website.
Date introduced: September 14, 2012
Status: Received Unfavorable Report by Judicial Proceedings on February 18, 2013
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Maryland law

Massachusetts

No legislation.

Michigan

Proposed law: HB 5929
Description: Probate; wills and estates; personal representative; give power to control the online mail, social media, and similar accounts of the deceased. Amends 1998 PA 386 (MCL 700.1101700.8206) by adding sec. 3723.
Date introduced: September 20, 2012
Status: Unknown
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Michigan law

Minnesota

No legislation.

Mississippi

No legislation.

Missouri

No legislation.

Montana

No legislation.

Nebraska

Proposed law: LB 783
Description: This bill provides the personal representative of a deceased individual the power to take control of or terminate any accounts or message services that are considered digital assets. The power can be limited by will or court order.
Date introduced: January 5, 2012
Status: Indefinitely postponed as of April 18, 2012
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Nebraska law

Nevada

Law: SB 131
Description: Establishes provisions governing the termination of a decedent’s accounts on electronic mail, social networking, messaging and other web-based services.
Date introduced: February 18, 2013
Status: Approved June 1, 2013. Effective October 1, 2013
Full text: Click here for full text of the Nevada law

New Hampshire

Proposed law: HB 0116
Description: An act relative to the powers of an executor or administrator to take control of a decedent’s social networking websites.
Date introduced: January 3, 2013
Status: Tabled as of January 30, 2013
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed New Hampshire law

New Jersey

Proposed law: A2943
Description: Authorizes executor or administrator to take control of online accounts of deceased person.
Date introduced: May 14, 2012
Status: Passed by the Assembly June 21, 2012. Received in the Senate, Referred to Senate Commerce Committee June 25, 2012
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed New Jersey law

New Mexico

No legislation.

New York

Proposed law: A823-2013
Description: Provides access to a decedent’s electronic mail, social networking and/or micro-blogging accounts to the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate
Date introduced: January 9, 2013
Status: Unknown
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed New York law

North Carolina

Law: SB 279 – S.L. 2013-91
Description: To access, take control of, handle, conduct, continue, distribute, dispose of, or terminate any digital assets, as defined in G.S. 28A-13-11(d)(3), and digital accounts, as defined in G.S. 28A-13-11(d)(2), owned by the decedent at death.
Date introduced: March 12, 2013
Status: The proposal for digital accounts was removed from the final version of the law, which was signed by the Governor on June 12, 2013.
Full text: Click here for full text of the North Carolina law

North Dakota

Proposed law: HB 1455
Description: A bill for an act to create and enact a new chapter to title 34 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to internet accounts and workplace privacy of social media accounts.
Date introduced: January 21, 2013
Status: Failed April 9, 2013
Full text: Click here for full text of the North Dakota law

Ohio

No legislation.

Oklahoma

Name of law: HB 2800
Description: An act relating to probate procedure; authorizing an executor or administrator to have control of certain social networking, micro-blogging or e-mail accounts of the deceased; providing for codification; and providing an effective date. Allows provisions in a will or a formal order to control access.
Status: Effective November 1, 2010
Full text of law: Click here for full text of the Oklahoma law

Oregon

Proposed law: SB 54
Description: Defines “digital accounts” and “digital assets” for purposes of administration of estates and trusts. Requires custodian of digital accounts and digital assets to transfer, deliver or provide access to accounts or electronic copies of assets to personal representative, conservator or settlor upon written request.
Date introduced: January 14, 2013
Status: In Senate Committee
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Oregon law

Pennsylvania

Proposed law: HB 2580
Description: An act amending Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in administration and personal representatives, providing for power over decedent account on social networking website, micro-blogging or short message service website or e-mail service website.
Date introduced: August 23, 2012
Status: Unknown
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Pennsylvania law

Rhode Island

Law: Title 33: Probate practice and procedure, Chapter 33-27: Access to Decedents’ Electronic Mail Accounts Act, Section 33-27-3
Description: Executors may access email accounts. The state may require a death certificate and documentation of the executor’s appointment before the estate’s representative can see the deceased person’s emails or social networking accounts.
Status: Effective May 1, 2007

South Carolina

No legislation.

South Dakota

No legislation.

Tennessee

No legislation.

Texas

No legislation.

Utah

No legislation.

Vermont

No legislation.

Virginia

Proposed law: SB 914
Description: Fiduciary access to digital assets. Enables a fiduciary to gain access to the digital accounts and digital assets of the person or estate to whom he owes a fiduciary duty upon making a written request to the custodian of the digital accounts and digitals assets and submitting proof of the fiduciary relationship.
Date introduced: January 7, 2013
Status: Unknown
Full text: Click here for full text of the proposed Virginia law

Washington

No legislation.

West Virginia

No legislation.

Wisconsin

No legislation.

Wyoming

No legislation.

Digital estate planing and digital asset legislation is developing and changing very quickly. Though we make every effort to keep this list as up-to-date as possible, there may be information that is not current. Always consult a licensed estate attorney in your state to learn more about your state’s laws.

How to give away your digital fortune

How to give away your digital fortune

Your 20,000-song iTunes library is valuable both monetarily and as an artifact of your life, so you’d like to leave it to your children. Legally, you probably can’t, at least not yet. But, as a practical matter, you can share your wealth in a limited fashion — as long as you plan ahead.

For those who purchase music, this digital asset may add up to a sizable chunk of change. “I have about 12,000 songs in my library. In theory, in today’s prices, that’s $15,000 worth of music,” notes Ken Moraif, a senior adviser at Money Matters, a wealth-management firm.

The problem is that generally you don’t actually own the digital music and books you buy on your computer and mobile devices — you’ve simply bought licenses to listen and view those products.

Plus, the rules governing your account will vary by service provider — it’s all in the fine print of those terms and conditions to which you agreed when you opened the account.

But there are some ways to share these assets with your heirs, and creating a digital estate plan may smooth the process. Read more here about creating a digital estate plan: Who gets your digital fortune when you die?

iTunes

The Apple AAPL, -0.87%   iTunes terms of service agreement generally states that your license is nontransferable and will end automatically if you fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.

Did you take your pills? Digital ‘Mother’ knows

(4:39)

Did you drink enough water today? A new device called Mother has motion and temperature sensors to remind you of your tasks. Rafi Haladjian, Sen.se CEO, which makes Mother, joins digits from the Consumer Electronics Show. Photo: Sen.se.

The agreement “doesn’t seem to contemplate a transfer of the license after death,” said Sharon Klein, managing director of family office services and wealth strategies at Wilmington Trust, in New York.

“It’s silent about what happens when someone dies. It just says you can’t transfer it, period,” she said.

Until the language changes — if it changes—or until state laws do a better job supporting executors’ ability to manage digital assets — your safest best might be to give your heirs the access information for your iTunes account. (The terms of service allow up to five computers on one account.)

Another option with some music files is to save them to your computer or a hard drive, and bequeath that to your heirs, but whether that will work depends on the type of music file.

E-books

Generally, you’re not going to be able to transfer your e-books to your heirs, because the service agreements usually say the license is nontransferable and e-books often are protected by digital rights management (DRM) software, so you can’t copy them.

But, like an iTunes account, you could simply give your Kindle or Nook or e-reader log-in credentials to an heir, and they can at least read the books you’ve already purchased, while your account remains active (which, according this New York Times opinion piece, may be a long time).

Bitcoins

If you own Bitcoins, it might take some computer expertise on your part to employ some of the highly secure strategies for passing on this digital currency — but there is also a quick and easy way.

Currently, many people store their Bitcoins in a digital wallet, usually via an app on their phone or laptop, said Jinyoung Englund, director of public affairs for the Bitcoin Foundation, a member-supported group that aims to standardize and promote Bitcoin, among other goals.

“If you store it in a digital wallet, you would just have to provide your user ID and your password [to your designated heir] and they can access your account,” Englund said.

But, while digital wallets do provide some level of security, there is the danger that hackers might access your account. To avoid that problem, it’s possible to pull your Bitcoins — which essentially consist of serial numbers — off the network and put them into “cold storage,” such as in a safe in your house or a bank safety deposit box, Englund said.

 

By

AndreaCoombes

Columnist

“You’ve completely taken [your Bitcoins] off line,” she said. And you can leave those assets to your heirs.

Currently, however, pulling Bitcoins off the network and putting them into cold storage requires some computer-science sophistication. “Because it’s such a new technology, the consumer-focused companies haven’t come along yet to build services to make it super easy,” she said.

Need help? Contact the Bitcoin Foundation via email: hello@bitcoinfoundation.org. Also, the Foundation is revamping its website; come February, the site will include a best practices section, including information on how to store your Bitcoins, among other information. Read this story for more tips on including Bitcoins in your estate plan.

Photo websites

If you’ve posted photos online that you want your heirs to receive, read your terms of service to see what the provisions are for an inactive account. But, it might be easier to simply make backup copies, store them in a safe place, and be sure your executor knows where to find such items.

“Maybe [your executor] can’t get access to Flickr, but if I’ve backed up all my photos on a hard drive, then it’s fine,” said Alexandra Gerson, a lawyer with Helsell Fetterman in Seattle.

Email

Grieving families are often shocked to find they can’t gain access to their loved one’s email messages. That said, some companies will provide copies of emails to an executor, though it can be a time-consuming and difficult process. In other cases, the account may simply be deleted.

For example, the terms of service for Yahoo email state that all rights to your account terminate on your death and that the data can be deleted.

Some estate-plan experts advise people to create a digital estate plan. You name a “digital executor” and state in your will that you’re giving that person the authority to deal with your digital assets. You provide that person with a list of your accounts, including each account’s username and password (such information should not be included in your will), plus instructions as to what you’d like done with each account.

“The mechanism that people are trying to use is to designate that person as an authorized user to try to make that designation compatible with the terms of service agreement and applicable laws,” Klein said.

“Whether providers respect that and it works perfectly or not is yet to be seen, but you have to do the best you can to make it as easy as possible for your designee to access the information,” she said.

That is, naming a digital executor is no guarantee. “Whether that works perfectly if there’s a terms of service agreement that conflicts with that, that’s unclear, but it’s certainly better to be proactive and nominate someone,” Klein said.

“Then that person has the ability to say, ‘This person authorized me to have access.’ That will certainly facilitate things after death,” she said.

Earlier this year, Google GOOG, -2.36%   eased this process by launching its Inactive Account Manager. The tool lets you control how your Gmail and any other Google accounts are handled after your death. You dictate who should be notified in the event your account is inactive for a specified period; you also decide whether your trusted contact should be able to download the data, or whether the account should be deleted.

Social-media sites

With your social-media accounts, at this point it appears most sites won’t give another user access to an inactive account, so you may want to ask your digital executor to manage your accounts on your behalf — that is, you provide a list of your log-in credentials for each account — though this could violate the terms of service.

If you don’t provide access to your account, here are the options available to your executor for two popular sites:

Facebook will delete an account or allow the user’s timeline to be memorialized once the company receives proof of death and proof of the relationship between the decedent and the person making the request. Read more here.

Twitter won’t give you access to a decedent’s account, but the company will delete an account, if certain information is provided. Read more here.

Read more:

 

Time (EDT)10:0011:0012:001:002:003:004:00

By

AndreaCoombes

Columnist

Your 20,000-song iTunes library is valuable both monetarily and as an artifact of your life, so you’d like to leave it to your children. Legally, you probably can’t, at least not yet. But, as a practical matter, you can share your wealth in a limited fashion — as long as you plan ahead.

For those who purchase music, this digital asset may add up to a sizable chunk of change. “I have about 12,000 songs in my library. In theory, in today’s prices, that’s $15,000 worth of music,” notes Ken Moraif, a senior adviser at Money Matters, a wealth-management firm.

The problem is that generally you don’t actually own the digital music and books you buy on your computer and mobile devices — you’ve simply bought licenses to listen and view those products.

Plus, the rules governing your account will vary by service provider — it’s all in the fine print of those terms and conditions to which you agreed when you opened the account.

But there are some ways to share these assets with your heirs, and creating a digital estate plan may smooth the process. Read more here about creating a digital estate plan: Who gets your digital fortune when you die?

iTunes

The Apple AAPL, -0.87%   iTunes terms of service agreement generally states that your license is nontransferable and will end automatically if you fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.

Did you take your pills? Digital ‘Mother’ knows

(4:39)

Did you drink enough water today? A new device called Mother has motion and temperature sensors to remind you of your tasks. Rafi Haladjian, Sen.se CEO, which makes Mother, joins digits from the Consumer Electronics Show. Photo: Sen.se.

The agreement “doesn’t seem to contemplate a transfer of the license after death,” said Sharon Klein, managing director of family office services and wealth strategies at Wilmington Trust, in New York.

“It’s silent about what happens when someone dies. It just says you can’t transfer it, period,” she said.

Until the language changes — if it changes—or until state laws do a better job supporting executors’ ability to manage digital assets — your safest best might be to give your heirs the access information for your iTunes account. (The terms of service allow up to five computers on one account.)

Another option with some music files is to save them to your computer or a hard drive, and bequeath that to your heirs, but whether that will work depends on the type of music file.

E-books

Generally, you’re not going to be able to transfer your e-books to your heirs, because the service agreements usually say the license is nontransferable and e-books often are protected by digital rights management (DRM) software, so you can’t copy them.

But, like an iTunes account, you could simply give your Kindle or Nook or e-reader log-in credentials to an heir, and they can at least read the books you’ve already purchased, while your account remains active (which, according this New York Times opinion piece, may be a long time).

Bitcoins

If you own Bitcoins, it might take some computer expertise on your part to employ some of the highly secure strategies for passing on this digital currency — but there is also a quick and easy way.

Currently, many people store their Bitcoins in a digital wallet, usually via an app on their phone or laptop, said Jinyoung Englund, director of public affairs for the Bitcoin Foundation, a member-supported group that aims to standardize and promote Bitcoin, among other goals.

“If you store it in a digital wallet, you would just have to provide your user ID and your password [to your designated heir] and they can access your account,” Englund said.

But, while digital wallets do provide some level of security, there is the danger that hackers might access your account. To avoid that problem, it’s possible to pull your Bitcoins — which essentially consist of serial numbers — off the network and put them into “cold storage,” such as in a safe in your house or a bank safety deposit box, Englund said.