Today, we own on-demand music, ebooks, photos, videos, social media accounts and more.
But, when consuming the digital technology offered to us, how many of us think about what will happen to our digital property when we are no longer here?
A recent poll by YouGov has now revealed that over a quarter of people want to pass on their ‘digital inheritance’ to a beneficiary. But how easy is that to do?
Many digital items cannot be left through your Will because you do not own them. For example, your social media accounts are yours by license only. However, these platforms have years of our memories wrapped up in them and 26% of us want them passed on to loved ones in the future, while 7% would like their social media accounts running indefinitely.
Some social platforms will let you leave instructions setting out what you want to happen to them. For example, Facebook will allow a person of your choosing to change your account to “memorial” status. This means it can still be viewed and people can leave messages on it.
However, 67% would like their social media accounts deleted upon their death, so it’s essential you make your wishes known.
Do you own your digital legacy?
Some online assets can be passed to beneficiaries. To do this, you will need to leave instructions on how to access them.
However, just because you have paid for something doesn’t mean you own it. For example, iTunes falls under the category of licensed music, so it is not really in a person’s estate; regardless of how much they have forked out.
Other online information you might want to think about includes cyber currencies, websites and blogs, online profiles (e.g. gaming or forum), seller accounts on platforms such as Amazon and eBay, online financial accounts and/or utilities.
Ultimately, different online platforms have different rules, and it’s important to understand who owns what and how to pass on access rights. You should leave instructions on how to deal with any online accounts and assets with your lawyer as part of the Will-writing process.
At the same time, digital companies must think about how they can meet the needs of those customers that want to ensure their digital property is protected after their death.