Digital Assets and Social Media – What happens when I die?
We are currently living in a digital age with many of us active online both financially and with social media accounts.
Social media forms a part of our day-to-day life with many of us uploading photos and connecting with family and friends online.
Digitally our financial estates are slowly being shifted to many online platforms and we are moving away from the days where people would have savings accounts with bank and building societies and hold physical passbooks.
There are a lot more online banks and financial institutions out there and we now need to shift our thinking when it comes to our estate to incorporate this digital element to include digital assets.
In general digital assets is a broad term and can be separated into 3 categories:-
- digital assets with financial worth for example solely online bank accounts or online businesses. These days many investments (such as stocks and shares) are held electronically.
- digital assets with sentimental value for example photographs stored online or on a hard drive. Please also be aware that sometimes these assets can have a monetary value in terms of rights and royalties.
- digital assets which divulge personal information for example a Facebook account which gives name, date of birth and address details.
Making a Will – Digital Assets
When making a Will, thought should be given to all these digital assets.
Whilst many people can see the need for your Executors to be able to access your digital assets with financial worth, such as, online banking accounts, investment accounts or businesses, thought should be given as to how your friends and family will be able to access any photographs or other digital media that you may have of sentimental value.
If no thought is given to this, this could mean that family photos and memories could end up being lost into the ether. You should consider what your wishes are and ensure that you protect your privacy, personal data and your contacts privacy.
The Executor of the estate has the right and responsibility to deal with the estate on death and so they should be given the means to do so.
- We would recommend that you list all your digital assets with financial worth, such as, your digital bank accounts, investment accounts or any business assets. Any digital asset that has a financial value. Whilst we do not recommend disclosing this to third parties such as an Executor whilst you are alive, you will need to think about how your Executor would get this information after you die.
- Separate from this list you may wish to leave a note disclosing your financial and social account passwords. However it will be down to you to decide where you store this information and we would recommend that you store this in a secure place.
- We would not recommend including any sensitive data such as passwords in the Will itself which will become a public document once it has been sent to Probate. You therefore need to think about how best you convey this information to your Executors.
- Please note that even if you have disclosed your account passwords to the Executor or administrator they will not have the legal authority to access your accounts online post death and they must go through the account provider to gain access. As stated above we at Kerseys would not advise you to disclose this information to your Executors whilst you are alive.
- If you are thinking of making a gift of your digital assets of sentimental value (i.e. photographs stored online or on a hard drive) we would recommend that you speak to one of our private client solicitors to see how best to do this.
With the growing use of online resources, this seems to be a developing area and new services offering solutions to the problem are emerging offering online space to store lists of digital assets or an encrypted area of a hard drive to store confidential data.
If this is something you have, we would recommend when sorting out your affairs, such as the making of a Will, to speak to one of our private client solicitor’s about online storage and they will be able to advise you accordingly.
Click below for a quick rundown of how you can prepare your Digital Assets and information about digital accounts will be dealt with.
- Managing Digital Accounts
(information correct as at March 2021)