Digital Assets And Death – 5 Top Tips

When thinking about what happens to your assets on death, you most likely think of your property, your bank accounts and any savings/investments you may have.

However, in this digital age that we live in, have you stopped to think about what happens to your ‘digital assets’ when you die?

Digital assets may include:

  • financial assets – eg online bank accounts/investments and online currency like Bitcoins.
  • business assets – eg website, domain names and important information stored online.
  • personal assets – eg photographs, music and books on your Kindle.
  • social media accounts – eg Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Some of these assets have financial value, while others might have sentimental importance.

While, as your solicitor, I may be more interested in identifying any assets (or liabilities!) with financial value, your friends and family may well be keen to be able to access, for example, your digital photos.

What should you be thinking about now?

  1. Do you actually own these ‘assets’ or do you merely have a licence to use the data?Our tip – Check the Ts and Cs.  For example, does your online music account die with you or do you have a ‘family account’, which allows your nearest and dearest to continue to listen to the music?
  1. If you die, how will your personal representatives know you have digital assets?
    Have you told them?  Will they be able to find them?  In this online ‘paperless’ world, will there be any good old fashioned ‘paperwork’ to tell your personal representatives that these assets exist?

    Our tip – make and maintain a list of all your assets, including your digital assets, and tell your personal representatives where to find this list.

  1. Will your personal representatives know how to deal with your digital assets?
    If your assets are straightforward, then perhaps they will be fine, but perhaps not if you have significant/complex digital assets.

    Our tip –
    consider if it is worth appointing a separate ‘digital executor’ to deal with this aspect of your estate. Think about whether there are any specific requirements needed to deal with the digital assets you own.
  1. Have you been appointed as the executor for a family member/friend?
    If so, do you know what digital assets they have and how you would deal with them?  Are they likely to have any digital liabilities, which would need to be paid by the estate, for example, online gambling debts?

    Our tip – have a chat with your relative/friend, so you know what you could potentially be dealing with if that person dies.

  1. Have you thought about what you would like to happen to your social media accounts?
    Some accounts allow users to create a memorial page if desired.  Other accounts should be deleted, to avoid the risk of identity theft.

    Our tip – Let your personal representatives know your preferences or write a letter setting out your wishes.

If you would like assistance planning for the future, contact our Private Client department for further information. Email  or phone 01483 302000

For further information see our pages on wills & probate.