11 Jan 2018

Top tips for dealing with your digital assets.

When you think of making your Will, deciding on what happens to your digital assets may not be top of mind. Yet as we store more and more information online, some of it valuable, it’s increasingly important to ensure your Will sets out how your digital assets should be dealt with.

Digital assets can range from monetary (such as credit stored online with PayPal or Bitcoin) to sentimental, which could include family photos or videos. And it’s not just whether your digital assets will have financial or emotional value to your beneficiaries. There’s also the question of security.

Identity theft rose by 57% in 2016, and information left on inactive social media accounts can be an easy target. If it’s not dealt with properly on your death, it could make matters difficult for your executors and loved ones.

Top tips for dealing with your digital assets

Which assets do you want to be sure are preserved?

Make a note of which digital assets are important to you and which can be deleted if you die or lose mental capacity. This will help your executors know which of your digital assets they should deal with first. For example, taking care of those with monetary value may be a higher priority than those with only sentimental value.

Prepare an inventory of your digital assets

Tracking down your digital assets could become a major, time-consuming task for your executors. You’ll make their job considerably easier by producing a list of your assets, and the devices they’re stored on.

You should also ensure your executor will be able to access the assets after you’ve passed away, so you may need to include username and password details, or details of the email address needed to reset a password.

Your list needs to be easily accessible to your executor when they need it, but stored in a very secure place until then – perhaps with the original Will held by your solicitor.

Does the asset have any monetary value?

The value might not be obviously financial; it could include intellectual property. Perhaps you’ve written your memoirs, and when published they could be an international best seller!

If the stored information is likely to have a value or you want it handled in a specific way after your death, make this clear in your instructions. It could be worth dealing with this asset separately to information that’s purely sentimental.

Give your executor authorisation

Many terms of use agreements for digital assets restrict access to the account holder, unless clear authorisation is granted to another person. By signing a form of authority that lets your chosen representative access the accounts, you’ll not only help your executor but also ensure your wishes can be followed.

Like to know more?

Life is unpredictable, so don’t put off incorporating instructions for your digital assets into your Will; do it as soon as possible. If you’d like more advice on this, or any other aspect of your Will, please get in touch with Kirsten Pettit or a member for our Private Wealth team.