Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.
Why? With digital content, one doesn’t have the same rights as with print books and CDs. Customers own a license to use the digital files—but they don’t actually own them. Apple and Amazon.com grant “nontransferable” rights to use content, so if you buy the complete works of the Beatles on iTunes, you cannot give the White Album to your offspring.
One lawyer’s (David Goldman) idea to do this legally is to help estate planners create a legal trust for their clients’ online accounts that hold music, e-books and movies. Purchase his software, Dap Trust, to store and manage digital accounts and passwords. And, while there are other online safe-deposit boxes like AssetLock and ExecutorSource that already do that, Goldman says his software contains instructions to create a legal trust for accounts. “Having access to digital content and having the legal right to use it are two totally different things,” he says.
Death may seem a long way off to many, but do you want your hard earned purchases to be for naught? The simpler alternative is to just use your loved one’s devices and accounts after they’re gone—as long as you have the right passwords.