Managing digital assets can be highly complex when someone dies. Many wills only cover the disposal of your physical and financial assets but almost everyone today has some form of digital asset whether it’s precious photographs and videos, protected passwords, social media platforms, or cryptocurrency accounts.
Most of us will own digital assets without even realising it yet, it seems that few of us are including them in our wills. A recent investigation found that 93% of people with a will have not included digital assets.
So, what are considered digital assets and why should they be incorporated into your will?
Digital assets encompass everything from images stored on your online storage solution to your online bank accounts to even your home heating app – the list is endless.
Your executors will be responsible for identifying and collecting all assets in your estate including your digital ones as well as your traditional physical assets like your home or furniture. So, it’s more crucial than ever to consider how we advise our loved ones on how to handle these valuable assets when we pass away, including the following: –
Social media accounts have become a fundamental part of our lives. From personal accounts where we share personal milestones, like Facebook and Instagram, to business accounts through LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s important to consider how your loved ones will be able to access these accounts after you die.
A lot of social media networks allow you to nominate an individual to take control of your account by creating a Legacy Contact during your lifetime. This person then has access to do things such as create a memorial page or delete the account to avoid causing extra distress to your family or to safeguard the account from fraudulent activity.
Check all of your social media settings to see what options each platform offers and think about who you’d like to name as the account’s administrator in your will.
Online photo storage solutions are becoming increasingly popular as a means of archiving those treasured snapshot memories, but how can family and friends retrieve these photos after you’ve gone? At a time when your family is already going through upsetting times, the loss of these memories could be devastating.
Unfortunately, unlike social media, there is no option to nominate users to access these photos. The next best option is to make tangible copies of those images or back them up on a hard drive or USB device.
Following this, if you want to give specific images or movies to your beneficiaries, you can include this USB drive in your will to guarantee these photos can be accessed after your death.
Financial digital assets
In today’s world, we have a plethora of choices when it comes to how we manage our funds and finances. Online banking is growing increasingly popular, as are digital only banks.
But how will your loved ones know where your money is housed, given the rise of cryptocurrency and our commitment to a more sustainable world of paperless statements?
Our homes are also more digitally managed than ever before. We have digital doorbells, security cameras, and heating and lighting controlled through devices.
Factoring in these digital assets within your estate planning is vital as your executors are liable for identifying all assets within your estate. Without considering these assets this task could be very challenging.
Keeping a digital assets record can help, and a law firm such as Gardner Leader can advise how to do this. Ensure it is checked and regularly updated such as with new passwords, data or changes to assets. To prevent fraudsters, keep this log in a secure location and don’t grant anyone access to it during your lifetime.
Alternatively, consider using a commercial password manager to store this information securely along with passwords and logins for your various online accounts.
Without realising it, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. If we don’t think about these assets now and if we don’t include them in our will, our sentimental digital possessions could get lost or forgotten forever, causing your executor and family a great deal of hardship at a time when they need everything to be as simple and straightforward as possible.