Your Digital Assets and Estate Planning
In the digital age, it is crucial that you keep your digital assets in mind when making your will and estate planning arrangements. Indeed, online storage and streaming are increasingly pervasive in our day-to-day living.
A recent study by the Law Society shows that 93% of people neglect their digital assets in their estate planning arrangements. In other words, only 7% of those surveyed fully understood what happens to their digital assets, such as social media accounts (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter), streaming services (Netflix/Apple TV/Amazon Prime) and online storage services (Dropbox/Google Drive/Apple iCloud) - to name a few - after they die. All those digital assets could easily be overlooked by those dealing with your estate, especially if you fail to inform them of their existence in the first place. Not only is it vital to ensure that payments to any subscription-based accounts are cancelled, but it is also important for your bereaved family to have the ability to extract/preserve any personal effects, as well as close those accounts as necessary. Ultimately, if you fail to disclose such digital assets, it is likely that your loved ones will be prevented from accessing them. Even worse, all those beautiful memories, your personal information and more could be lost in the digital abyss forever; just think of all the photos you save to “the cloud”!
Additionally, it is common nowadays to store financial assets electronically through forums like PayPal and Bitcoin. These types of digital assets affect the value of an individual’s estate, the Inheritance Tax that may be payable and, finally, the legacies due to beneficiaries. Failing to account for such digital assets could be detrimental to the probate process – leaving family members unable to access information needed for online banking, share dealing and other financial holdings.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy. But, giving proper consideration to digital assets can help alleviate stress and can make this particular aspect of estate administration easier. We recommend that together with your will you leave a list of all your online accounts including login credentials for your close family members and/or executor to access. If you are someone who periodically changes their passwords, you must also ensure your list is kept up to date.
If you would like assistance with the preparation of your will or have questions about your digital assets and estate planning contact us today!