You've probably heard about the importance of estate planning, but what about digital estate planning?
Experts say if you want to pass on your digital content to your loved ones after you die, it's critical to act now.
Debby Rosenberg's son committed suicide. She's been struggling to find out why and wanted to see if clues could be in his iPhone. However, she can't access his account.
"We do know that he had some activity that night on the phone. I wanted to know if there were text messages or anything that could give me a clue about what happened," she says.
Experts say what she's experiencing is a growing problem across the country. After we die, our digital life does too unless something is done about it.
They say because of digital rights management and licensing when you purchase something through iTunes or Amazon, you're only purchasing a license to use it. You don't own it and the license is only good for that user, so you're not supposed to be able to pass it on.
According to ABC station KXTV, that even applies to things we haven't paid for. For example, anything password protected. That includes digital content on our phones, email accounts and pictures on Facebook.
That's where digital estate planning comes in.
"One of the easiest ways to ignore it is to say, I'll get around to it sometime. Unfortunately, in this situation you only have one chance," says Evan Carroll, the author of a book called The Digital Afterlife.
He recommends leaving behind a list of passwords. You can also will your items, but he says some states have laws assisting a digital estate while others have laws that only apply to email accounts.
He says Michigan is one of several states that have proposals for similar laws, but none of them could matter because the licenses users agree to are held in other states. Apple is in California and can ignore other states laws.
"Until there's enough consumer pressure for Apple or Amazon to make it so you can transition your licensed items at death, there's no real incentive for them to do so. It's a lot of work without a lot of payoff for them," says Carroll.
So for now, experts say document your passwords, but don't put those passwords in a will since it's a public document.
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