Protecting your digital assets on death
Much of what we do now involves some sort of online action, be it paying for something in a shop using our phone or downloading music to listen on the commute to work.
Whatever we do online, through our computers or phones, we are creating a digital legacy that often has some monetary and/or sentimental value. As an estate planning and probate specialist including this as part of persons assets when they pass is becoming an increasing consideration.
It is important that instructions are included for what should happen to an email & social media accounts, music library, photo’s etc.and be treated as a physical asset where possible.
In line with The Law Society guidance we would recommend the creation of a Personal Assets Log, so that executors of an estate can easily access all of the assets. Leaving a list of passwords and PIN’s for an executor to access would be committing an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.
How to prepare a Personal Assets Log ?
The starting point is preparing an inventory and this will be no simple exercise, but start with the basics e.g. email, social media, itunes, amazon etc. and build as you go.
Assigning somebody to manage your digital assets when you pass is another good practice. You should name a digital executor in your will. It may be an idea to name more than one as you never know what the future holds.
You should create a plan of what you wish to happen to each account and provide this document to the digital executor on your death. There may be certain accounts where assets cannot be transferred to another person e.g. itunes so this needs to be considered beforehand.
In this age many of us can make use of the technology available and it may well be that we choose to leave a digital message that allows you to be filmed expressing your wishes and leave a farewell message to family and friends left behind. Most smart phones allow us to be film producers and directors now.