People are increasingly leaving a digital legacy after their death, as well as digital assets. We take a look at how to deal with the digital aspects of an estate.
Dealing with someone’s online presence and digital matters after they have gone can be daunting. It is often difficult to identify exactly what they had and to legally access and transfer assets and other holdings.
With the digital world still relatively new, organisations are only starting to properly deal with the question of how personal representatives can access and manage different aspects of a digital holding.
Those left behind would often like to have digital mementoes, such as photos and video from social media accounts, films and music that has been collected and also a way to communicate with online connections that the deceased had built up.
Digital assets, such as cryptocurrency holdings and NFTs can also pose a problem for estate executors and administrators, who will have an obligation to encash these and pass on the value in accordance with the deceased’s Will or, if they did not leave a Will, the Rules of Intestacy.
Access to devices after death
Companies such as Apple have refused to unlock phones and other devices, so if the deceased has not authorised anyone else to have access or left a passcode, you may have to accept that you will not be able to access this area of their life.
Executors and administrators should also be aware that it is often an offence to access someone else’s account, even if they have been given the passcode.
Social media platforms will sometimes allow an account to be memorialised, although certain sites will delete an account if they are informed of a death, so you are advised to copy any information that you want as soon as possible.
The deceased will need to leave the necessary access information to someone to enable cryptocurrency to be sold or transferred after death. If they have not done this, then the currency is likely to be unattainable as security is strict and it is simply not possible to access without the correct passwords.
NFTs or non-fungible tokens are also usually accessed via a key or password, meaning the deceased will need to pass this on when making a Will. This type of information should not be included in the Will itself however, as it will become publicly available after probate is granted.
Including your digital assets in your Will
It is important to consider your digital legacy when making a Will and ensure that you have adequately dealt with all of your assets. It is also crucial to ensure that your executors are made aware of all of your digital holdings as well as how you would like them to be dealt with.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at [email protected]