What will happen to your assets upon death?

What will happen to your digital assets when you die?

Nobody likes to contemplate their own mortality, but in today’s ever changing digital age it is important to consider this question in order to ensure your loved ones and those you care about do not experience any unnecessary heartache and financial distress due to a lack of forward planning.

From photos and social media accounts to online banking and crypto currency, the average person has a lot of ‘digital’ content that will form part of their estate, and it is important to consider who will have access to it (and how) when you are gone.

Radio Interview about what happens to digital assets on death

In our latest Legal Chat, Private Client legal expert Nicola Manning explores the question of ‘what happens to digital assets on death?’, and explains how you can make sure your assets go to the right people when you are no longer around.

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Below is a summary of the questions and answers from the above radio clip

What are digital assets?

  • They must exist in binary format and readable by a computer
  • They must be uniquely identifiable
  • They must have a value

What are the 6 categories of digital assets?

  • Photos, audio files + videos
  • Written word (spreadsheets, manuscripts, websites, blogs, emails)
  • Storage
  • Social media + social networks
  • Designs, logos, illustrations + graphics
  • Financial (cryptocurrency, trading, online payments, loyalty programmes, bank accounts, gambling, pensions)

Why are digital assets an issue when someone dies?

Those who are administering the estate need to know what assets the person had when they died and give a value to them.

What can people do to ensure that there are fewer issues when sorting digital assets?

When writing a new will or estate, think about digital assets at the beginning of the process. Create a digital asset legacy which they can go through and list all of their assets. Put the digital asset database in a secure digital vault which can only be accessed by the owner of the assets. Upon death or incapacity, the executor or attorney gain access to the vault based on instructions from the will.

Writing a will for your digital assets

It is important to have a will drawn up which allows the executor access to the digital assets as it can save a lot of time and effort. Many people say that they will provide access to their digital assets when the time is needed but passwords change which can make accessing online assets impossible.

Handing over a material asset like a laptop or computer doesn’t allow the person access to the digital assets within the laptop. The Law Commission is investigating the view of the law to identify a discreet new area of possessions in law.

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