Making a Will: Consider your Digital Assetsby Sydney Brown on Jun 14, 2019
Writing a Will gives you peace of mind that you have put your affairs in order. You can decide who should receive any money or property you own after your death and who should act as your Executor until the administration of your estate has been finalised. Unfortunately, many people fail to make plans for their digital assets when writing their Will which can cause distress to their family, practical problems and delay during the administration of their estate. A report by Co-Operative Funeralcare states that 94% of UK adults now hold online accounts. Worryingly, three-quarters (75%) have not considered what would happen to these accounts should they pass away or made plans for these accounts in the event of their death.
A digital asset is any asset which is accessed or stored on-line such as email accounts, social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc), online banking, investment accounts, E-bay, Paypal, iTunes accounts, data/photos/blogs stored on lap tops, smartphones, tablets and files backed up on the cloud. It is essential to equip our loved ones with awareness of the existence of these accounts and give them the means of accessing them in the event of your death. With regard financial assets such as bank accounts or investments, an inability to gain access or insufficient knowledge as to what online accounts even exist can cause great distress for families after the death of a loved one. Furthermore, assets such as blogs and files containing photos or videos may not be worth much in financial terms but of huge sentimental importance to loved ones.
Social media is also on the rise with many more people holding accounts with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc. Each online platform has its own rules for dealing with the holder of a deceased account and therefore you should check your settings across all accounts. Facebook and Instagram allow you to either have your page deleted after your death or memorialized (the choice can be made by amending your account settings). Facebook allows you to appoint a legacy contact of your choice (such as a family member or friend) to manage your memorialized account after your death. With regards to Twitter, your account may either be deleted at the request of family members or left as it is.
How to make your will
When making your Will, it is sensible to make a list of your digital assets on a separate document. Details of accounts and passwords should never be stated on the Will itself as it becomes a public document after your death. You may wish to place the details in a sealed envelope alongside your Will and store this is a secure manner; this will ensure that a nominated person may access your digital assets after your death. It is essential to keep the list and the access details up to date as passwords can change and new accounts can be opened. Lastly, checking the settings across all online accounts and selecting your preferences where possible is an excellent way of ensuring that your affairs are in order.