Viable Solutions to the Digital Estate Planning Dilemma

11 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2014 Last revised: 17 Apr 2014

See all articles by Jamie Hopkins

Jamie Hopkins

The American College

Ilya A. Lipin

PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP

Date Written: April 1, 2014


Countless people are dying without proper digital estate plans in place, leaving billions of dollars of assets unaccounted for in the digital world. This is occurring in part because individuals are often unaware that traditional estate planning tools and techniques, such as wills, are ill-equipped to handle the unique challenges of digital estate planning. As a result, the majority of Americans are vastly unprepared for their digital afterlife, unintentionally foregoing digital estate planning altogether and leaving their assets trapped in a digital purgatory.

With the ongoing growth in our reliance on technology, interaction via social media, digitization of individual’s property, and further advancement of new Internet technologies, the amount and value of our digital assets are growing exponentially. In response to this immediate need for digital estate planning and management of digital assets, some businesses began to offer their users the ability to plan for the disposition of their digital assets upon their death. However, due to the novelty of this area of law, the business solutions currently afforded often leave more questions than answers about what happens to the individual’s digital assets, raise concerns about privacy and security, and augment disputes over their overall effectiveness in the estate plan. This Essay examines the importance and increasing prevalence of digital assets, discusses the challenges facing traditional estate planning in the growing world of digital assets, and suggests a workable strategy for the creation of a well-developed and manageable digital estate plan.

Keywords: law, legal, facebook, twitter, google, gmail, email, estate, digital, electronic, money, wealth, planning

JEL Classification: K0, K00, K20, K10

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Jamie and Lipin, Ilya A., Viable Solutions to the Digital Estate Planning Dilemma (April 1, 2014). Iowa Law Review Bulletin, Vol. 99, p. 61 (2014), Available at SSRN:

Jamie Hopkins (Contact Author)

The American College ( email )

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
United States
610-526-1441 (Phone)


Ilya A. Lipin

PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP ( email )

1301 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019
United States

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