In this internet age, not only do we own property, bank accounts, shares and other investments but we often own valuable digital assets including digital music, books and and photographs.
Leaving aside the value of these assets for inheritance tax purposes, the real value of these assets lies in their sentimental value to beneficiaries of the deceased person as they represent a very personal legacy.
Although these assets pass via your will or intestacy in the same way as your other property, the ability of your executors to access these digital assets maybe somewhat difficult to access due to non-transferability clauses in the terms and conditions of some online providers. As such, properly appointed executors in your will can no doubt assist in this regard especially if clear recorded guidance regarding your digital assets is set out in your will.
Furthermore, if you do not have a will and the intestacy rules take effect then your digitalised assets may end up in the ownership of those who you do not wish to benefit.
Perhaps, most importantly, how are your executors or administrators going to find your valuable digital assets if they are unaware of them because the risk is that they could be lost forever.
There are a number of practical steps that you can take to protect your digital assets:
- Make a list of your digital assets and passwords and keep it regularly updated.
- Store a copy of your digitalised assets with your solicitor, bank or specialist online vault*. This list should ideally be password protected itself and only kept in a secure location away from your home.
- Ensure that a trusted family member or friend is aware of where your access list is stored.
- Make or update your will to ensure that your digital as well as your other assets are properly gifted to your chosen beneficiary(s).
- You should also consider keeping a backup of your most valuable digital assets with your solicitor or bank.
It is, of course, vitally important that your security in respect of your digital security is not compromised and as such as few as people as necessary should have access to your list with information regarding your digitalised assets..
At a solicitor specialisiing in dealing with wills genenraly I can give detailed guidance and practical solutions to my clients regarding their wills generally and the gift of their digitalised assets, specifically.
The gift and proper management of your digital assets is a topic that, therefore, needs careful consideration.