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Digital assets how to deal with them after death

Jul 20, 2018

Most people accumulate a huge number and range of possessions during their lifetime.

This can present significant challenges for those charged with sorting out a deceased person’s estate. Assets must be identified and allocated. And, in some cases, there are emotionally charged issues to handle as family members and friends lay claim to specific items and greater shares.

That is as it has always been. However, these days there is another complication in the mix: digital assets. The prevalence of web accounts, electronic communications, and the online storage of personal possessions like photos and music libraries has extended the categories of assets that the executors of Wills (or the administrator, in the absence of a Will) now need to consider.

‘Digital assets’ is a broad label. It includes anything that you store online, or that exists in intangible form on your laptop or other device. It could be your Amazon subscription, your emails, your LinkedIn account, your Tweets, your Instagram posts, your Spotify playlists. All of those things – and a lot more besides – hold some sort of value. In many cases that value will be sentimental; your family will want to hold on to those memories. In other cases, there may be some financial value attached. It’s certainly possible for there to be intellectual property in the things you have created.

It makes sense, then, to carefully consider your online presence in all its forms and even to create a neat inventory listing the categories of possessions exist, and where. This should reduce the chance of these things getting missed later on when your estate is being administered. You’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your various accounts to see if you are the legal owner of the things you have created. If you don’t own an asset outright, you will not be able to pass it on to a beneficiary.

Addressing these types of issues sooner rather than later should help ensure that your Will is as clear and comprehensive as it can be. It also means that you can anticipate and deal with difficulties (not least the common problem of executors and family members being unable to access your accounts) now. Downloading and saving separately or printing significant photographs and pieces of correspondence, for example, should make it easier for those things to be passed on to those you care about.

For advice on dealing with digital assets as part of your estate, contact our Private Client team today who will be happy to help.  Tel: 01264 353411, email:  wills@bsandi.co.uk or complete our no obligation, online enquiry form and someone will contact you.


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