Most of us associate a Will with leaving assets such as your house and savings to your loved ones. But with so much of our life being conducted online these days it is increasingly necessary to have in place a plan to deal with your virtual assets as well.
Virtual assets come in several forms and although a Will is legally effective when it comes to distributing your assets after death, there are many practical hurdles to putting these wishes into effect. For this reason you may want to consider leaving what could be described as a “Digital Will”.
Virtual assets breakdown into three categories –
- Digital assets – these are web-based entities with a monetary value such as online savings accounts, Ebay trading businesses, Paypal accounts etc
- Connected devices – devices that may hold virtual assets such as smartphones, tablets and computers
- Digital legacy – these are sites such social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In etc), and documents held in “cloud storage” facilities (iCloud, Google Drive, Onedrive etc) that impact on the way you are remembered
Digital assets can have a monetary value and therefore a list of usernames and passwords should be kept somewhere secure (and regularly updated) to enable these to be accessed following your death and their value realised. This is particularly the case with online trading accounts where there are business activities that may need to be maintained in the short term so as to enable an orderly winding down of the operation.
Connected devices can contain personal photographs, videos and documents as well as media which has been purchased from providers such as iTunes and Amazon. Preserving the passwords to these devices can be crucial to accessing these virtual assets.
For social media activity a similar list of usernames and passwords is useful but you should also consider giving instructions on how these should be dealt with after your death. For instance, Facebook accounts can be left running as normal, closed down altogether or “memorialised” so that friends and family can continue to access them without any further activity on the account being possible.
Sutton McGrath Hartley is a multi-disciplinary firm of chartered accountants, financial advisers and lawyers offering comprehensive financial expertise for all business, personal and family interests. Our specialist Wills & Probate department can help with wills, trusts and estate planning. For further information please contact Tom Rodgers, Solicitor on 0114 266 4432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.