Wisconsin Lawyer

Atty. Kindkeppel Honored as Fellow of the Wisconsin Law Foundation

Joshua J. Kindkeppel, attorney and shareholder with Eustice, Laffey, Sebranek & Auby, S.C., was recently nominated and accepted membership as a Fellow of the Wisconsin Law Foundation.  The Fellows organization was created in 1999 as a special means to honor members of the State Bar of Wisconsin who have both achieved significant accomplishments in their career and contributed leadership and service to their communities. Membership in the Fellows is considered a professional honor and includes the likes of Russ Feingold, Tommy Thompson, former members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and other well respected attorneys and retired judges.

Attorney Kindkeppel practices in the areas of business, real estate, employment, and civil litigation.  He was elected and served as president of the Dane County Bar Association in 2012-13, and collaborated with long-time Madison attorney Joseph Melli to create the Joseph A. Melli Mentorship Program to assist young Dane County attorneys. Kindkeppel is also active in the Sun Prairie Rotary Club, and serves on the planning committee for the Sun Prairie Kindness Retreats.

Digital Assets – A New Frontier in Estate Planning

In their first year, every law student takes a class called Property in which these eager future lawyers learn, among other things, how real property (a/k/a real estate) can be passed on to future generations.  In later estate planning classes, law students come to learn the laws pertaining to “personal property” (a/k/a nearly everything else).  Personal property is further divided into tangible and intangible personal property.

Tangible personal property (cars, household furnishings, etc.) may be passed on to specific beneficiaries through an individual’s will and incorporated property list (as described in Wis. Stat. § 853.32(2)).  Intangible personal property (stocks, bonds, bank accounts, 401(k)s, etc.) is generally passed on, depending on the specific type, via a will, payable on death designation or beneficiary designation.

Until recently, these categories and mechanisms were sufficient to describe and guide lawyers in handling and disbursing of all of the property owned by an individual.  However, as described in this Wisconsin Lawyer article, a new category of quasi-property – so-called “Digital Assets” – has emerged and doesn’t quite fit into the current estate planning structure.

The article generally defines Digital Assets as “(1) any online account; and (2) any file stored on a person’s computer or on a server.”  Common digital assets include the following:

  • Email accounts;
  • Facebook accounts;
  • Digital photos (stored on an individual’s computer or with an online service like Picasa);
  • Websites, blogs or domain names;
  • Online sellers accounts (i.e., eBay or Amazon.com);
  • Paypal.com;
  • Online trading accounts;
  • Paid online subscriptions; and
  • Important computer files stored on an individual’s computer (i.e., bank account statements, tax records, etc.).

Under this definition almost everyone, whether they realize it or not, owns digital assets.  Obviously, similar to personal property, some Digital Assets will have monetary value (i.e., Paypal accounts and online trading accounts) and others will simply have sentimental value (i.e., digital photo albums and facebook accounts).  In either case, you will want these assets to end up in the hands of your desired beneficiary.  Attorneys at Eustice, Laffey, Sebranek & Auby, S.C. have teamed up with the fine folks at Entrustet.com and are prepared to assist you with your digital estate planning needs.

For more information about Digital Assets or to schedule an appointment with one of our estate planning attorneys, please contact our firm at (608) 837-7386.

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