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Protecting your digital assets in your Will

05/02/2021

Author: Caroline Billings

Wills, Tax and Probate

Game over: Protecting your digital assets in your Will

Game over: Protecting your digital assets in your Will

Our ever progressing culture means technology is fast developing and nowadays many of us have digital assets. Digital assets can be described as any content that is stored digitally. This can include emails, photographs, online bank accounts, other online accounts, documents stored on your computer, social media accounts including Facebook and Instagram, YouTube channels, blogs and websites with their associated domain names. As digital assets are intangible, they are not currently defined automatically as ‘personal possessions’ for the purposes of a Will.

We would not always think to include digital assets in our Wills but this is now a pertinent consideration in the digital times we live in. When a person dies, it is commonplace that they do not set their mind to their digital assets and how these could be accessed by their Personal Representatives.

Whilst many digital assets will purely have a sentimental value only, some will have an associated monetary value for example your PayPal account balance or any cryptocurrency or gaming credit you own. Or, could your online gaming characters be valuable to your beneficiaries? For some, who have built up their characters over months and years of playing an online game, the characters can be included in their Will to be passed on or sold to another user.

Whilst, due to the agreements on signing up, it is not always possible to transfer the license for digital assets completely to your chosen beneficiary, you can give access permissions to help the Executors manage your digital affairs in the event of your passing.

It is important to make provisions for your digital assets, and what should happen to them when you pass away, and this can be discussed in an appointment with one of our Private Client team when drafting your Will. At the most basic level, you should store a record of which online accounts and assets you hold, and what their passwords are with your Will. You may also wish to instruct your Executors as to your wishes regarding your digital assets following your death – for example, who should get access to your Facebook account, and would you like them to wind it up or memorialise it? Be sure to leave clear instructions about what should happen to each of your digital assets, and make sure to keep a back-up copy of digital assets where possible. You should also aim to keep your Will up to date by reviewing it every six months.

Caroline Billings is Head of Private Client at Hatch Brenner Solicitors in Norwich. If you would like to discuss making a Will, contact carolinebillings@hatchbrenner.co.uk or call 01603 660 811.

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