One thing many people forget about when making their Will is what will happen to their digital assets once they die. But, in today’s online world, this is something we should all now consider.
What is a digital legacy?
Your digital legacy is all of the online information you will leave behind after you are gone. This may include:
- Your websites and blogs
- Your social media accounts
- Your online photos and videos
- Your gaming/forum profiles
- Seller accounts on platforms such as Amazon, eBay, etc.
- Things you have purchased that are stored online (e.g. music, photos, eBooks etc.)
- Access to online financial accounts and/or utilities.
Do you own your digital legacy?
Many of these items cannot be left through your Will (because you do not actually own them). Take, social media accounts; these are yours by license only. So, when you die, the contract is over. But, you can leave instructions for your executor, setting out what you want to happen to them.
For example, Facebook will let a person of your choosing change your account to “memorial” status. This means it can still be viewed and people can leave messages on it. Alternatively, you might want someone to post a final tweet or blog post on your behalf (and establish in advance what you want that post to say).
Other assets, such as music, photos, movies, or other digital files can often be passed to beneficiaries. But to do this, you will need to leave instructions on how to access them. You may also decide to pass on any seller-accounts (if transferable), along with the items for sale in your Will.
For banking and other online accounts, it is more important than ever to provide clear instructions on how to access these to help with the Probate process.
Ultimately, different online platforms have different rules and, as such, it’s important to understand the policies for each online service you use to ensure you know who owns what, and who has access rights to your digital legacy.
Who can help protect your digital legacy?
You should leave instructions on how to deal with any online accounts and assets with your lawyer as part of the will-writing process. This can include your log-in information.