We may not be aware of it but many of our lives involve a digital world. What would happen to this if we die?
The term Digital Assets potentially covers an enormous range. It could cover creative works such as pictures, covered by copyright, through e-currencies to pictures, videos and music held in the cloud. Some of this can pass under a Will but much of it cannot. Pictures held in the cloud, for example, will be governed by the Internet Service Providers terms and conditions (ISP).
The best response is to take action now, in your lifetime rather than leaving it to the Executors in your Will. Business owners should be thinking about succession planning in any event. That is, what they want to happen to their business when they retire or if they were to die in service. Individuals should consider whether they want to preserve pictures, videos, emails and documents for family and friends. They may have enormous sentimental value but not commercial. Some items should be deleted to avoid controversy and embarrassment.
A first step would be to prepare a list of all of your accounts with passwords, taking enormous care to keep these secure and not to share them. They cannot be left for the Executors to access your accounts after you have died as this is likely to breach the ISP’s terms and conditions and could well be illegal. Some ISP’s have set up a facility which could be useful. For example, Google have an Inactive Account Manager and Apple allow you to create a Legacy Contact.
It is always open to you downloading all your pictures, video, emails and so on to a local hard drive on your computer.
Almost everyone has a digital life now. We need to start thinking about whether we want to preserve this for family and friends or are we bothered if it all gets deleted.