In our increasingly technologically influenced society, have you considered what happens to the digital parts of life when you die? Do you keep personal assets such as photos digitally? Do you have online banking and never receive a paper bank statement? Do you have a large collection of downloaded music or eBooks? If yes to any of these questions, will the people who deal with your estate be able to access and administer your digital legacy on your death?
Shelly Wainwright, wills and probate lawyer at Ansons in Cannock and Lichfield Staffordshire, advises how to protect your digital legacy and make sure it is available to your loved ones after you die.
Use an online password protector
Whatever you store or use online will be password protected. To help the people who will deal with your estate it is a good idea to record securely your usernames and passwords. You may want to keep this information stored safely with your will; but bear in mind that you will need to update this record if information changes.
One option is to use an online digital storage facility. There are a number of these service providers and all you need is a note of the single access code. However, these providers are still relatively untested so you will need to be sure how you are protected by them if something goes wrong.
Keep a record of your online banking
Also make a secure note of the details for all of your online bank accounts. This will be extremely useful to be able to deal with these on your death, as there may not be any paper records about these.
Give instructions to your social media providers
For email and social media accounts such as Facebook, there are no uniform set of rules for the service providers to follow on the death of a user. Accessing and managing an individual’s account up to closure can sometimes prove difficult. Be clear on what your digital service provider will do with your accounts on your death and who they will deal with.
It is worth bearing in mind that when you buy music downloads for your MP3 player or material for your eBook reader, you are buying a perpetual licence to play the music or use the eBook content. This means that while you can give your CD, vinyl or book collection on your death; the content of your MP3 or eBook reader cannot be given in the same way as technically you do not own them.
If a lot of your life is in digital form, it is important for you to think carefully about how your digital assets will be dealt with on your death and that you appoint executors who are sufficiently tech savvy to be able to deal with your digital legacy.
At Ansons, our experienced wills and probate lawyers can help you plan for the future by making a will and a lasting power of attorney, to ensure that your wishes are followed when you die or in case you become incapacitated. We can also act as professional executors and help fulfil the terms of your will and advise family members on technical or legal issues.
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