The term digital estate refers to data that can be inherited. Digital assets are (in contrast to physical assets) more dynamic in appearance and fugacity. Data sets that can be inherited can include passwords, instructive memos, digital contracts, digital receipts, pictures, medical information, or anything else that a user has access to primarily digitally.
Today, more and more of life - including bank accounts, writings, photographs, and social interactions - has taken on a non-tangible form in the digital world. These rely on media that are not owned by the data owner but by service providers such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. Also in contrast to physical assets, electronic assets can be copied indefinitely, which is problematic if the asset represents intellectual property. There is also the challenge of privacy violation, in giving executors access to a deceased person's online information. Digital inheritance can also pose a challenge for many data heirs to manage the digital legacy of the deceased when they have limited IT skills themselves. A further challenge comes with the extreme proliferation of digital data. The average person has 25 online accounts, this not taking into account the data physically stored on their computers and phones.
Data heirs that are faced with an un-sorted data flood with limited instructions are often unsure about how to manage each separate account. Yet another problem is posed by the fact that contracts with service providers most often are automatically terminated (by the terms of service) as soon as the customer ceases to exist, or are at least vastly reduced. In this case, data heirs lose access to the data, and in several cases, they are deleted. People's need to be able to pass on their digital assets has given rise to several companies that specialize in providing consumers with ways to allow their heirs to inherit their digital assets after they die.