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Can you pass on your digital movie collection?

Movie collections used to consist of cabinets full of VHS tapes or DVDs. Many people put thousands of dollars into them. Plus, those movies had a lot of sentimental value, as they may have watched them with their children while growing up. It just made sense to put this valuable asset into the estate plan.

But is that still true? Today, most people buy digital movies, which means they never even have a physical copy. They just sign on to the content provider they bought the movies from and pick the one they want to watch. Can you put these digital movies in your estate plan?

You do not own them

In most cases, the reality is that you don’t even own your digital movies. You do pay for them, but what you buy with services like Amazon is the right to watch that content. You license it from Amazon. You don’t own anything.

That license does last indefinitely. Does that mean you can pass it on? It does not. The license lasts indefinitely for you, the person who bought it, but no one else is authorized to use it. When you pass away, your legal right to watch this digital content ends.

Of course, this doesn’t stop some parents from leaving passwords to their children. But not all digital providers allow you to do so, and it certainly does not mean you own the content — even if you spent thousands of dollars “buying” it.

Modern estate planning

As you can see, modern estate planning is often different than many people assume. Be sure you are well aware of the options you have.