Protecting our Digital Legacies When we Die

Traditionally, assets have always been best protected after death by writing a Will to make sure that our loved ones benefit from our legacy – but what about our digital assets?

In recent years we have seen a rapid increase in the use of social media with many people choosing to keep their personal messages, photographs and videos stored primarily online. This gives rise to questions about what happens to your digital life when you die.

A recent story saw a heartbroken mother denied access to her daughter’s Facebook account after she died due to a brain tumour. According to the BBC, Facebook denied the mothers request to her daughter’s account but instead her account was memorialised.

Last year The Law Society urged the public to give clear instructions written in a Will detailing their wishes for their “digital estate”.  This could include: giving your loved ones unfettered access to your account; memorialising your accounts so all friends and family can still see your photos and posts; or it could also detail your wish to close all accounts. The Law Society stresses your Will should provide this information but you should also detail any online bank accounts, investments and digital currency.

Whilst dealing with such assets in a Will is quite a new concept in the traditionally archaic legal world, society’s increasing dependence on technology and innovation certainly ensures this practice will become a necessity in the future.

You need to include an express authority in your Will for someone to deal with your digital assets but you must not give anyone your personal log in details. This is why you should simply list your online accounts rather than include passwords and pins to make sure they are protected against fraud and hackers. Just as importantly, your Executors might commit a criminal offence by using your details.

Lawindexpro have a vibrant and diverse Private Client department who can efficiently and accurately draft your Will taking into account all of your assets by asking all the right questions. Our staff know the steps you need to take to pass digital assets to your chosen beneficiaries without compromising your ongoing online security. If you would like to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact our Private Client department.