So much of our personal and professional lives are conducted online these days, from social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to managing your online bank accounts, storing your photos in the cloud and money in your PayPal and shopping accounts. Its no surprise therefore, that the vast majority of us exist in some form online. So what happens to our digital legacy when we die?
Increasingly, digital assets are becoming lost, inaccessible or simply unknown due to a lack of provisions set out in the deceased lifetime. It’s a given nowadays, that when you sit down to plan your Will you want to leave clear instructions to ensure that your property and ‘physical’ belongings are distributed amongst your family and those that are close to you. Making a plan for your digital assets should therefore be just as important as many of these will hold financial and sentimental value.
At present, UK legislation does not give a single definition of what actually constitutes a digital asset. However it’s thought that this can cover any information that exists in digital form, either online or on a storage device. This can be anything from social media profiles, online bank accounts, photo collections, blogs and music libraries.
Despite campaigns and guidance from the Law Society and STEP encouraging individuals to ensure that they make a list of their online accounts and profiles so that families are able to carry out their wishes upon passing away, a 2016 poll by YouGov found that over 50% of people still had not made any arrangements with regards to their online accounts.
So what can you do? Despite this being a continually evolving area of law, it is important to make plans to ensure that your digital legacy is dealt with appropriately. Here are some of our tips:
- Make a list – Create a list of all of your profiles and passwords so that your executor can easy locate accounts and knows what to do with them.
- Store the list safely – Keep all information secure to avoid fraudulent use of your accounts. A list of your accounts and passwords can be retained with your Will – and you can of course pass on any details to the person that you appoint as your executor.
- Review (or make) your Will – it’s important to review your Will in light of any digital assets of financial or emotional value to ensure that they are dealt with in accordance with your wishes.
If you need advice on writing a Will or to speak to a solicitor who specialises in Wills, Trusts & Probate please call Farleys on 0845 287 0939 or contact us here.