Thursday, December 8, 2011

Is my iTunes Account a Marital Asset?

In Massachusetts, everything that either party to a divorce action owns or owes, regardless of whether it was acquired during the marriage or not, is subject to division in a divorce case. How it might be divided is a different question, but in order for that evaluation to happen, all assets and liabilities must first be disclosed. Massachusetts requires individuals involved in divorce cases to submit financial statements disclosing all of their assets and liabilities within 45 days of opening a divorce case.

The assets to be listed on a financial statement are to include everything. This includes the most commonly thought of assets, such as physical assets (artwork, automobiles, jewelry, houses, etc.) and financial accounts (bank, investment, stock, retirement, etc.). This disclosure should also include items which you might not think about as assets.

One example of an asset that many people don't typically think about is their frequent flyer miles, which was parodied in the beginning of the movie Wedding Crashers (warning: link includes profanity).

In the digital age there are other digital assets (such as a significant iTunes library) which you may also not think of as a typical asset, but which should be disclosed. These are becoming more common as digital libraries can now include, games, movies and even books. A recent article on TechCrunch, What If You Could Legally Resell Your Digital Music? ReDigi May Have Found The Solution., suggests that companies may start brokering digital accounts, which could result in them being even easier to transfer, and therefore more similar to a traditional (non-digital) asset. Essentially your iTunes account of 200 CDs would be similar to actually owning 200 CDs. Of course, there may be restrictions on transferring these assets and any agreement should be mindful of recent legal decisions concerning the distribution of digital copyrighted materials.

While, a digital asset is subject to division in the resolution of a divorce case, they will not always have significant value and may be a non-issue. Failing to disclose an asset, however, could be a significant issue and open you to criticism and possible fraud or perjury allegations. Therefore, when completing your Financial Statement we always advise, err on the side of disclosure even if you have to include explanatory footnotes regarding value or restrictions on transfer.

To read more visit our post: The Financial Statement and the Importance of Honesty.

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