Your Digital Legacy
Have you thought about what will happen to your digital assets after you pass away?
What are digital assets?
Digital assets are anything you own that is created, recorded, transmitted, or stored digitally rather than physically, and can include files and records you keep in a computer, on a digital device such as your phone, or online. A digital asset can include things like digital photos, audio clips, e-books, digital movies, subscriptions, online accounts (including email), websites and their content, online businesses records and data, digital currency, and digital currency accounts (such as bitcoin) or private social network accounts. Some digital assets are worth money and some are not, while some simply have sentimental value.
Deciding how you want these assets to be looked after, archived, or removed after you pass can be an important conversation to have with those you trust.
Access to some digital assets such as online accounts may be dependent on the terms and conditions of the service provider. Those terms may not permit other people, including your next of kin such as your parents, children, or partner, to access your account after you have passed away. So, your Will can nominate who you would like to manage your digital affairs, what that person should and should not do with your digital assets, and how they can gain access to your accounts (including where to find your passwords, usernames, linked email accounts, or codes). Your Will cannot change the terms and conditions that apply to your digital assets (which will change from time to time), and the person who prepares your Will is not responsible for reviewing or checking those terms and conditions unless they expressly agree to do so. So, it is important to review your Will regularly.
It is important to note, all digital assets may be subject to terms and conditions or legal rights, such as copyright issues or privacy laws. So, it is a good idea to talk to a solicitor and seek expert advice when planning your digital legacy.
How to support nominated people to gain access
Passwords to your digital assets are meant to be kept secret and need to be updated frequently and therefore cannot be written into your Will. You may wish to write a separate memorandum (stored separately but securely with your Will) which lists each digital asset, the username, your passwords, and provides instruction on how you wish for each asset to be dealt with. If the person you nominate does not know how to obtain your passwords, then they may not be able to gain access to your digital assets.
To manage this, you may like to provide a list of passwords that are sealed and securely stored alongside your Will.
Some digital accounts may have management options to support people to gain access after you have passed away. It is a good idea to check what options are available in the terms and conditions of your different accounts. This may be especially important for people under 18, who are not yet able to create a Will, and where the service provider’s policy does not allow next of kin to access their accounts.
- Think about the digital assets you have that are valuable to you or are worth money.
- Check whether your subscriptions and online accounts have an option to plan for management after you’ve passed away.
- Discuss with those you trust which digital assets you would like managed, and what you would like deleted after you’ve gone (or do the deleting when you are alive).
- Think about how you might organise your passwords for your computer, phone, or online accounts and logins for the people or person you trust to access after you have passed away and let your Will drafter know so that any of your instructions can be stored with your Will.
- If things change with your digital assets, then consider the effect on your Will and contact a solicitor to review your Will.
Where to start:
- E-books and digital music purchases, many social media accounts, emails, avatars, and loyalty programs often do not currently have memorialisation settings or processes to pass your digital assets on after you die.
- If you have an online business, or a social media account that makes revenue, you may need to come up with a plan for the business if you were to pass away, so that its value or reputation does not decrease if left unmonitored.
Things to consider
If you have any questions, we're here for you.