How do I make sure my digital assets don’t die with me?
Just how to pass on your digital assets when you die has long been fraught with problems - particularly because many third-party providers don't make it easy.
That's why it's welcome news that Apple, the multinational technology company, has announced a new 'digital legacy' feature. This allows someone to choose up to five identified friends or family members who will be permitted to access their account after they die.
In a world where we all increasingly live our lives online, protecting your digital legacy is something which experts now say should be taken into account when making or updating your Will to avoid potential confusion and possible conflict for your loved ones after you've gone.
Do you know what digital assets you have?
Have you ever thought about what will happen to your Facebook photographs, your digital music and film collections not to mention your on-line bank accounts when you die?
If you haven't, you are not alone - research by the Law Society has revealed that more than 70% of people have never given the issue even a second's consideration.
That's why it's so important to know exactly what a digital asset is and to compile an inventory including:
- Online financial assets like PayPal, Amazon, eBay, cryptocurrency and loyalty card points;
- Documents, photos and emails stored on the cloud;
- Digital artwork, music compositions and writing;
- Social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter;
- On-line bank accounts, financial services and email accounts
Can I include my digital assets in my Will?
Yes, and it is becoming far more common for a digital clause to be inserted in a Will detailing who is to receive what.
This is important as without explicit instructions, your executors won't know what digital assets you have, how to access them or who you want to inherit them.
This can slow down the probate process and cause stress and anxiety for your loved ones.
What do I do about passwords?
It is very important that your Will does not include a record of passwords or usernames. These must be stored elsewhere.
However, it's crucial your executors know where to find your passwords particularly for on-line financial accounts.
One option is to write them down, put them in a sealed envelope and store them securely with your bank or law firm.
Alternatively, you could use an online 'vault', a service offered by companies like LastPass and 1Password for a fee.
Obviously, ensuring your passwords are kept up to date is also vital.
How do I protect my digital legacy?
The Law Society recommends that you leave clear instructions about what should happen to your digital assets after your death, especially as there is currently very little inheritance law in place in relation to this.
What you want to ensure is that your loved ones, and the executors of your Will, know not only of the existence of all your accounts, collections and assets, but also have the legal authority to access them.
Get in touch
Here at Wards Solicitors, we ask people to complete asset record sheets which means we get to know of any paperless accounts. We are then able to confidentially store your important details with your Will.
We contact you periodically to review your Will and this also acts as a reminder for you to update your asset record sheet.
For advice on making or updating a Will, including your digital assets, please contact our Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity Team