What are digital assets?

Kristina SmithKristina Smith, private client partner at Birchall Blackburn Law and STEP appointed practitioner, looks at what digital assets are and how people can include them in their will.

 What are my digital assets?

Like many people, you probably spend a chunk of your time online, looking at photographs, blogs, utility bills, accessing bank accounts or medical records, shopping online and exchanging emails. That information and those accounts are your digital assets.

Your digital assets may have monetary or sentimental value to you and your family and are often just as important as your tangible assets. As a result, they should be considered as part of your future.

Why are my digital assets important?

 Digital assets have become a huge part of our lives and what happens to them when we are no longer here, isn’t something that is considered often enough.

Our digital assets can carry a financial value, PayPal, online banking or gaming websites hold your money in an online forum. We also submit an extensive amount of personal information to these online forums and it’s important that our privacy and confidentiality is protected.

In today’s digital world most people will have at least one social network, and these can have huge sentimental value. They are full of photographs, videos and communications between friends. The loss of these could cause emotional pain to your loved ones.

How should I plan my digital legacy?

When making a will or a lasting power of attorney, you will usually name an executor or a power of attorney. You can include your digital assets within the responsibilities of these representatives or you can choose a different person to become your digital executor.

The first step in creating your digital legacy is to make a list of all your digital assets, where they are, how they are used and how they can be accessed by your executors.

Include instruction for your executors as to what they should do with your assets. Do you want your social media closing or memorialising? What do you want to do with the money in your online accounts? There are many questions that your executor could need answering.

Finally, ensure that the documents including sensitive information are password protected and in a safe, accessible place. You can print off a copy of the information or store it on a USB and keep with your will.

What if happens if my executor can’t access my accounts?

 Laws in this area can vary depending on your geographical location and the service agreements you have entered with internet service providers. While you have provided your account information to your executor, the internet service provider may have terms and conditions that question your executor’s right to access the accounts. This is where your executor may benefit from professional legal advice.

At Birchall Blackburn Law our lawyers are specialists in all areas of wills, trust and probate law and are experts in guiding clients and their families through the legal process in a sensitive a sympathetic manner.