Digital Assets on Death

What are digital assets?

Digital assets are possessions which you can access on a digital device like a laptop, telephone or tablet. They are usually accessed via an online account and examples include digital photographs, music or videos that can be stored online in a personal account.

How can you protect your digital assets when you die?

You should keep a record of the digital assets you hold in online accounts and make a list of logins and passwords. This list should be stored securely and your executors should be aware that such a list is in existence. You may want to choose an account nominee who can take control of certain aspects of your account. You should review the terms and conditions which you agreed to when creating the online account as they may state what happens if you die.

How do you record digital assets in your will?

For photographs and videos of sentimental value, they could be left as a general gift of personal possessions or a specific gift to a beneficiary within your will. For photographs and videos with more than nominal monetary value, they may have intellectual property rights attached. Examples includes copyright in digitally created artwork, blogs, books or poetry online, or videos posted on YouTube which are monetised. You may therefore need to include these rights in your will as a separate gift with separate executors appointed to administer them. Access to music is usually controlled by an internet service provider therefore you will only have a licence to listen to online music tracks. When you die, that licence ends, therefore you may wish to make a manual hard copy list of the music you enjoy and retain this with your documents. Depending on the loyalty scheme, points on a card can sometimes be passed to others after death by will or written request. You should check the terms and conditions to ensure that you are in fact able to pass on these points after death.

If you hold crypto-currency, you should note the details of the public and private keys in your digital wallet and store these details securely. If you wish to gift crypto-currency, you should include a specific legacy in your will. You may wish to appoint separate executors who have the requisite knowledge and skills to deal with your holding upon death.

If you need assistance in making a will or dealing with an estate, contact our probate team, to arrange a free meeting.

By Alex Tomley