If you are considering an update to your will, or have just started out on some lifetime planning then it might be worth thinking about how your digital assets will be managed after you die. It is no longer enough to plan who will get your house, personal possessions or investments after your death – what happens to your Facebook profile, the thousands of photographs held in the cloud, the money in your eBay or PayPal accounts, Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, or your online share portfolio?
With so much of our professional and personal lives now conducted online, clients need to consider what should happen to their digital estate. It is important that clients identify digital assets they own and ensure that the right people have access. This area of the law is still in its infancy but clients are advised for example, to set up legacy contacts with Facebook and Google so a named person can access their accounts after their death. In addition, clients should be encouraged to compile a digital assets log and also check what is stored on any device or in the cloud before passing it on to a beneficiary.
It may appear tempting to leave a list of your accounts and passwords (assuming they are all different) for your personal representatives. However, you should be cautious of this (and of those who suggest it). The Law Society recommends leaving a list of the accounts only, in the form of a personal asset log. This is because a personal representative accessing a deceased’s account with login and password details could be committing a criminal offence through unauthorised access. It may be possible to argue that by passing on details of logins and passwords, the deceased is granting consent, but it is not worth the risk.
If you would like further advice on how to deal with your digital estate please contact our in house solicitor Liz Hooley.