Estates- Leaving behind “digital assets”

As our “digital identities” become more predominant, planning around your “digital assets” is becoming increasingly important to consider as part of the estate planning process. One of many reasons to undertake careful estate planning, is to clarify your wishes and reduce the burden on the executors. It is important to specify who is legally entitled to administer your digital assets both within your Will and any other account by way of legacy nomination.

Social Media & accounts

Social media sites such as Facebook and Apple now allow their users to add legacy contacts to enable them limited control over the user’s account after their passing, once a death certificate is provided via their support page. If an executor or another individual was appointed to administer the user’s digital assets, taking advantage of such a function will simplify the process of administering the deceased social media account.

The ability to appoint a legacy contact is a new function, one that is not offered by a majority of websites. On websites such as LinkedIn or Twitter, a support page may simply assist you in deactivating the deceased account after providing a copy of a death certificate.

Passwords

In the more likely circumstance where websites have no method to appoint a legacy contact or even be deactivated externally, the only option would be to provide the administrator with the digital keys through passwords. Any person who is leaving a series of accounts, with different usernames and passwords, would be recommended to have a digital register, in a form of a spreadsheet or a table to be kept alongside their wills.

Given the frequency in which new online accounts are often created and passwords being changed, such digital registers should also be updated frequently. Alternatively, leaving behind the access to a  password manager, such as Lastpass can serve as an easier way for your administrator to access your full list of up-to-date passwords. 

Photos, videos and Cryptocurrency

A database of media files can be stored on online cloud servers or for larger databases, offline on hard drives or computers. The same is the case for cryptocurrency, which can be stored online for active trading, or offline in physical drives for added security.

In either case, a digital register should leave detailed information on how to access these accounts, via passwords in online accounts or instructions on where to locate and how to access a physical database of digital assets. The ways to leave your legacy on digital platforms are evolving, but it remains the best way to prepare by closely tracking and updating each of your digital assets individually.

For any questions regarding estate planning and your digital assets, please contact Jake Cho at jake.cho@perspectivelaw.com or call him today on 07 3317 4312.

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