With advances in technology our lives are becoming more connected to online platforms and many people now have valuable assets which exist solely in the digital world. It is important not to neglect these assets when considering your estate as access to them can be easily lost if no plan is in place to provide login details for accounts or indeed information that the assets themselves exist.
What are digital Assets?
Digital Assets can take many forms and they will vary from person to person however common examples include:
- Pictures and Videos saved to online cloud accounts or computer hard drives
- Digital Purchases such as Movies, Music or games
- Accounts with streaming services such as Spotify or Netflix
- Emails, Blogs and Social Media
- Online banking, Utility and Pension Accounts
- Intellectual Property such as Digital Art, Manuscripts and Code
- Crypto Currency
- Other online accounts
The steps to take in providing for your digital assets
Your digital assets can be dealt with in a similar way to physical assets and the steps to be taken are largely the same.
Step One: Cataloguing your online presence
As with all assets the first step is examining and listing your online assets and account details. This will help you and the Solicitor drafting your will to ensure your online presence is dealt with in the will as well as assisting your executors in accessing and distributing those assets when the time comes.
It is important to keep this list up to date and held in a secure place. It is normally best to keep this list in hardcopy format with your solicitor. We recommend that you review and update this list every six months to ensure the information remains up to date. If information becomes out of date it may prevent your family from accessing the assets you want them to have and could result in their loss.
Step Two: Considering your wishes relating to those assets
The next step is deciding what you want to be done with the assets and accounts you have. For example, you may want certain pictures to go to a specific family member or to your family as a whole or for a specific person to continue your blogs or memorialise your social media. At this stage you should review the terms and conditions of any accounts or hosting platforms in order to ensure your wishes can be executed and that no information held on accounts or platforms is lost due to inactivity.
This will also assist you in identifying those platforms which have provisions in place for the transference or continuance of accounts after death, this will assist your executors when the time comes.
Once again, your solicitor can assist you with this stage.
Step three: Providing for your assets in your will
The final stage is communicating these wishes to the solicitor preparing your will, if you have obtained the assistance of a solicitor to carry out one of the earlier steps this will of course already be done.
At this stage your solicitor can advise you of any barriers to your wishes and then ensure that your wishes are reflected in your will.
Special Considerations for online assets
When disposing of digital assets such as accounts or digital media like music or games it is important to fully examine the terms and conditions of your accounts and to ensure that you are free to pass those assets in your estate. Many digital music and movie platforms operate on a license system which may mean that you lose the right to access your accounts after death. This would prevent you from transferring them in your will.
Some digital assets may also be better distributed by an executor who specialises in them and as such may benefit from being dealt with in a separate legacy with different executors to the rest of your will.
A member of Monarch Solicitors will be able to advice you full on such intricacies if they will affect your online assets.