Digital Assets are assets stored in a digital or online form. This covers information stored on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other devices. Also email accounts, social media profiles, domain names, online storage resources as well as financial assets such as balances in PayPal, eBay or online bank accounts.
Most people to store photos and personal data online and hold a digital social media profile. However, many of us have not planned for our online accounts when we die. A recent study discovered 52% of us had not made any arrangements about what should happen.
We have compiled a list of points to prevent your loved ones having a digital nightmare:
Appoint a digital executor who can act on your behalf after your death. This person will be responsible for closing your accounts, look after digital assets and memorialising your social media profiles. Your wishes should be included within your Will.
Make a list of all your online accounts, including the web address, username or ID associated with each one. List your wishes for each website and store this information with your copy Will. It is never incorporated into a Will. There is no need to write down any passwords or pin numbers. Accounts are closed by sending a death certificate.
Keep your newly created list of digital assets up to date by regularly reviewing it.
Your computer, mobile and other electronic equipment will pass to beneficiaries in the same way as other personal effects. If you have a specific item e.g. computer, mobile or even a domain name you may wish to nominate a specific beneficiary. Usually online bank accounts will pass under the provision relating to bank accounts, while the remainder of items usually pass with the residue of your estate.
Many computers are used for both business and personal purposes. You may wish for personal information to be given to your family but business files and documents to be given to assist with the running of the business. Particularly if they have a defined retention period.
Digital Assets with sentimental value can be the most difficult to sort out. These are often the most important to those left behind. Although we pay for music, films and video’s we are just purchasing a licence to use them, so you are unable to pass them on to beneficiaries. This may also include storage sites such as Flickr, YouTube and Dropbox to name a few.
Make sure you have backups or hard copies of items such as photographs or videos you want beneficiaries to review and receive after your death. Don’t rely on people being able to access your online account.
If you need any help with updating your Will, or applying for Probate please do not hesitate to contact Teresa Williamson or Laura Neerunjun in our Private Client department who would be happy to help.