What happens to your digital assets?
In a YouGov poll 2,185 adults were asked the following: In the event that a Facebook user passed away, who would own their Facebook content?
The results revealed considerable confusion in relation to this issue:
• 36% said Facebook
• 20% said the next of kin
• 17% said no-one; and
• 27% said they did not know
In the US at least, Facebook offered its users the option of deleting their account when they died, or of appointing a friend or relative to take control of some parts of it. At the time of writing, this option does not apply in the UK.
Social media accounts, like Facebook, are just one form of digital asset. Other assets could include video games and email accounts as well as things with real monetary value such as movies and music, domain names and online payment systems like Paypal.
Why should you consider digital assets in your will?
Although some online providers have procedures in places to deal with the passing of digital assets to heirs, there are no standard norms or practices across the board.
In the absence of any common ground, you would be well advised to leave clear instructions about what should happen to your digital assets following your death.
Making provision in your Will concerning your digital legacy is important; it will make it easier for your family to identify those digital assets you possess, adhere to your wishes in respect of them and save them time and money.
If for example, you have a social media account that your family wishes to be deactivated, it will be easier for those dealing with your estate to have it closed if you have left instructions to that effect.
Not making your digital legacy clear could lead to important or sentimental material like photographs or artwork stored online, being deleted and becoming inaccessible to future generations.
Digital legacies are relatively new factors to consider when making a Will but are with the onset of technology and the increasingly digitalization of our daily lives, becoming an increasingly important issue.
If you require any further information regarding this, please contact our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts team on 0117 929 0333.