In the digital age an increasing amount of time and money is
spent on the internet. A recent survey of 2000 adults found over
25% held more than £200 worth of films, videos and music
online. It should now be a consideration when making a will how you
wish to distribute your digital assets, in the same way you would
consider who you would like to receive your offline assets. This
should be dealt with by making a record of web-based assets,
deciding who you would like to have them and noting how to access
them. Although it is important to remember that as a will becomes a
public record after death, details such as passwords should be
noted separately and stored with the will.
Another consideration is your living online legacy such as
social networking affairs, email and internet banking. It is
estimated that 1.78 million Facebook users will die this year,
200,000 of them will be over the age of 55. This highlights that it
is not only the younger generation that need to consider their
digital footprint in their wills but the older generation too, many
of whom may already have made a will and should now consider
revising it to include their digital wishes.
Web-based service providers have varying policies on what they
require for someone other than the account holder to gain access.
Although there have been recent calls to regulate online industries
in this area, there remains a vast discrepancy between the policies
of different websites. To make it easier for executors to tie up
such affairs, it is advisable to make a list of usernames and
passwords to be stored safely with your will. It may also be worth
noting in your will how you wish for your social networking assets
to be dealt with. Many providers offer not only the option to
delete accounts after death but to memorialise them, preserving
them indefinitely for friends and family.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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A well-meaning friend, relative or even a carer of a deceased person may take what they believe are helpful steps to tidy up a deceased’s affairs in the days following their death to pave the way for those who will carry out the administration of the estate.
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