Your digital legacy

Have you ever thought about what happens to your digital photos, social media accounts and online information after you pass away?

These days, we spend so much time navigating the online world, we’re likely to create digital assets along the way. This is why it’s just as important to plan for what happens to your digital assets, as it is to plan for assets such as property and savings, in the event you can no longer manage them yourself.

What are digital assets?

A digital asset can be anything created or accessed digitally such as:

• Online accounts which have financial value including cryptocurrency, online businesses, stocks and shares, bank accounts or loyalty programs

• Photo libraries, social media, email and online gaming accounts

• Online information records such as ‘MyHealth’ records

• Media streaming accounts such as Netflix or Stan

Why is estate planning for your digital assets important?

• Many records are now received via email or online, which makes it difficult for an Executor or Attorney to follow a paper trail and find outstanding bills, or financial institutions you hold accounts with

• Unless your Executor or Attorney is aware of digital assets that have financial value (such as cryptocurrency) they may be lost, resulting in financial loss to you or your beneficiaries

• Many digital assets have sentimental value such as photo libraries or social media accounts, which may not be accessed or found

• Social media accounts such as Facebook may contain private information and you may wish for these to be closed or memorialised

• If no one has the ability to access or monitor your accounts after death or loss of capacity, it may increase the chance of your information being misused by third parties, or cause distress and frustration to family and loved ones

How can I plan my digital assets estate?

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Make a list of all your digital assets, devices and accounts.

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Think about how your usernames, passwords and other sensitive information should be managed in a way that protects your privacy and security during your lifetime, while assisting your Executor or Attorney to deal with these assets if you are unable to.

Sensitive information like usernames and passwords should not be included in your Will or Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) as these can become public documents after your death or incapacity.

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Check if any of your service providers offer an online tool where you can direct how you wish the account to be dealt with.

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Think about whether you need to make any specific arrangements in your Will and Enduring Power of Attorney for your digital assets, and how your Executor and Attorney will be able to access information about your digital assets.

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Regularly review your digital assets and your estate plan to make sure your arrangements remain up to date.

Things to consider:

Be aware that different online providers have different terms and conditions which impact on what happens to digital assets upon your death, or if you lose capacity. Also be aware that by keeping a record of your digital assets, particularly access details, you are increasing the risk of unauthorised access.

You may also need to consider any confidentiality issues in relation to digital assets such as whether you are holding information that belongs to, or is in relation to, your employer or customer.

Laws regarding digital assets are likely to evolve quite rapidly in the future. You should regularly review your estate planning documents as it may be desirable or necessary to update your documents as the laws evolve.

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Last published: 31/08/2023 3:02:28 AM