Digital Assets After Death

In our ever-developing digital world, more and more people own digital assets, and it is becoming increasingly common for Personal Representatives (PRs) to have to deal with these as well as tangible assets when someone dies.

Examples of digital assets include:

  • Blogs, including video blogging (vlogging) accounts (i.e YouTube)
  • E-Books and audiobooks (i.e Amazon Kindle, Audible)
  • Social media accounts (i.e Facebook, Instagram, X, Tik-Tok)
  • Online gaming accounts
  • Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies
  • Loyalty points (i.e Nectar Card, Tesco Clubcard)
  • Photographs and videos stored on your mobile devices

It is important, therefore, to plan what is going to happen to these digital assets after your death.

Digital assets after death

There are several steps that you can take to ensure that your digital assets are in order. You may wish to do this by:

Make a list of all digital assets you own

This could also include keeping a record of all of your login details and passwords for these assets and your devices, such as laptops and mobile phones.

You could, for example, keep this list with your other financial papers at home so that your PRs will find it after your death.

This will inform them what online assets you have and how to access these.

For example, if you have a computer or phone and store a lot of personal account information or photos on it, consider noting down the password or telling a close family member. If your device cannot be accessed after your death, these items may then be lost. You should also ensure that your data is regularly backed up to ensure your details and memories are not lost.

Of course, any such information you write down should be kept in a secure place because if found by the wrong people, your online assets could be accessed without your knowledge or permission.

Being clear about what will happen to digital assets when you die

It may be possible to determine from your online account terms and conditions, what will happen to that asset when you die.

For example, some social networking accounts will be automatically frozen and closed down after a period of inactivity. Facebook, however, allows for the memorialisation of accounts when an individual dies which allows only verified family members to log in and have access to your account for these purposes.

Additionally, store loyalty points, such as the Nectar card or Boots Advantage card, may be able to pass to your beneficiaries under your Will. It is worth checking your loyalty card terms and conditions as some loyalty schemes will simply state that points are lost when you die. It could therefore be worth ensuring that you spend your points rather than save them!

Consider making specific gifts of some digital assets in your Will

Not only does this alert your PRs to the existence of your digital assets, but it will also allow you to ensure that these will be inherited following your wishes. If you hold cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, you may wish to include a specific legacy of your holding in your Will. In addition, you should leave a note setting out how to access your private keys in your digital wallet. We have a separate blog on cryptocurrency here which explains what you should do if you own any of this digital asset.

Your digital assets may have financial and sentimental value and, unfortunately, unless you take steps to record the details of these assets and how to access them, your PRs may administer your estate without ever being aware of their existence.

Digital Assets After DeathHow Nelsons can help

Karen Salt is a Senior Associate in our expert Wills and Probate team, advising on Wills, Inheritance Tax planning, administration of estates, grants of Probate, Powers of Attorney and Trust creation and administration.

For advice or further information on the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Karen or another member of the team in DerbyLeicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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