The Law Society has recently urged people to prepare a digital legacy with their will as part of their estate planning.  

A digital legacy covers all of those intangible and invisible assets which we own and could not live without.  The Law Society is conscious that digital assets are just as significant in terms of their value and importance as our physical assets.

So what are digital assets? They include assets that are accessed or held online so for example, data in the following accounts –

Emails

Online Banking

Photographs

Music

Films

Computer Games

Personal Blogs

Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter etc

Professional Directories

Online Shopping

These exist in both our personal and business lives.  In some cases where entire businesses operate online there will be few physical assets.  If you are an online business owner do you know who would access incoming orders, online bank accounts etc with no arrangements in place?

As part of an estate planning exercise you should assume that family members will not know where to look online for your personal digital assets.  On this basis it is easier to draft instructions making your digital life absolutely clear.  A digital legacy will provide executors with a road map to locate and deal with your online affairs.  By way of example, full instructions would allow your loved ones to recover sentimental and important material like photographs held digitally.

It will be far easier for your executors to deactivate and close certain accounts for example, Twitter if you have left clear instructions.

You can begin your preparations for a digital legacy by accurately logging all the everyday accounts which you use online.  There is no need to list passwords or PINs as there could be obvious security issues.  As well as making a list of digital assets we would strongly recommend that this is regularly reviewed and updated so that it is kept current.  Something as simple as a written list kept with your papers can help families when looking for digital assets.

With technology and the way we store information constantly evolving it is more important than ever that we consider now what happens to our digital assets and virtual presence once we are gone.

We can discuss with you the best way to draw up a digital legacy according to your circumstances and wishes.  We also have an Intellectual Property team who can help with more complex digital legacies.

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