Are you making a Will? Don’t overlook your digital assets.

Digital assets have a very broad definition but essentially it means an electronic record in which an individual has a right or an interest.

The digital asset should be treated separately from the device on which it sits, so for example you may leave your computer to your son, but the family photos stored on the computer to your wife.

Does my Will already cover digital assets?

Your digital assets will form part of your main residuary estate unless you specify something different. This may only be required if you would like your personal possessions to pass to someone other than your main residuary beneficiaries. 

Some digital asses will have a monetary value. Others may have a sentimental value. Others still are not an asset at all but are licenced to use software: for example, use of a social medial account.   If it is a licence, the provider often specifies that this is not transferable, and it terminates on your death.  

Digital assets with a monetary value

An example of such assets may be:

  • Crypto currency such as Bitcoin.
  • Domain names.
  • Online books, blogs, articles you have written and created.
  • Digitally created artwork.

If you do not include a specific gift of your digital assets under your Will, they will simply fall part of the residue of your estate.  We therefore suggest, particularly if your income is derived from digital assets, that you take the time to document the assets carefully and decide how they will be distributed.  In addition, you may wish to appoint a digital executor who could take over your account and continue publishing under your name.  This will become increasingly important, for example, with social media influencers: many of their assets would be classed as digital assets.  It is therefore vital that such people check the terms of the various platforms that they use, carefully, to ascertain if their account can be classed as an asset and transferred on their death.  

You will need to keep a note of specific instructions on how to access any Crypto currency, all usernames for online accounts and any details held on the public and private keys themselves.  

We suggest that you create a hard copy list of the locations and log ins for your executors.  Such lists should not be handed over to anyone else and should be kept safe for your own security but also passing them on during your lifetime may in some circumstances be a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

Digital assets with a sentimental value 

Some digital assets have a great deal of sentimental value for example your collection of family photos and videos stored on your computer, cloud, or hard drive. 

Social media accounts can help to cherish memories.  It is possible to set up a Facebook memorialised account to specify a contact who may have control of your account in the event of your death.  Others such as Twitter, for example, allow an executor to request that the account is removed. 

This is an ever changing area of law and one upon which we all need to keep up to date! 

For more information contact Vanessa Ruparel, a Solicitor specialising in Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate. 

Further Reading:

Should I close social media accounts when someone dies?

What Happens to Croundfunding Money if You Die During a Fundraising Campaign?

The computer never lies: or does it?

Get in Touch

Vanessa Ruparel offers a fixed fee initial meeting of one hour to discuss your personal circumstances, your options and your next steps, at a cost of £95 (inc VAT).

Vanessa will meet you in our Reading Berkshire office, alternatively meetings can occur by telephone. If you would like to meet with Vanessa please telephone the office so that an appointment can be arranged.

Vanessa is a Solicitor specialising in Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and the administration of estates.

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