What Happens To Digital Assets When You Die? Part III

We have previously entered articles as to the above, and what is not commonly known is that you can now create a Digital Will. 

Digital Will 

It is recommended that people should have clear instructions in a form of Digital Will, about what should happen to their Social Media and their online accounts after their death. 

The Digital Legacy Association (www.digitallegacyassociation.org) which was set up to help educate people about how to manage what happens to their online presence after they die, offers guidance on how to leave your accounts accessible to the right people. 

A will template can be downloaded from the website. 

In respect of the digital assets what you can and can’t do without them, depends on each individual company or platform terms of service.  

Some people will have more sentimental reasons for their digital legacy, and others more financial. For example, deciding where PayPal credit or crypto currencies will go. 

A Digital will can resolve many outstanding questions about your wishes after death, however experts point out that it is a statement of wishes, rather than a legally binding document. 

Even if you have set out what you want to happen to your digital assets in your will, assets won’t necessarily be passed on as they want them to be. 

The law that deals with the succession of digital assets, have struggled to keep pace with the rapid developments in technology. 

Some people will appoint a Digital Assets Manager in your will, but it is unclear whether providers of Digital content will accept such an appointment, as a consent to disclose account information to the manager, or to allow the manager to reset passwords. 

For example, the terms of Apple and iCloud, which is embedded into every Apple device to store photos, files, music and documents, state that there is no right of survivorship 

Unless otherwise required by law, you agree that your account is non-transferable, and that any rights to your Apple ID and contents within your accounts terminate upon your death. 

In practical terms this means that even if a person makes a will stating that the document or photograph stored on iCloud, are to go to a certain individual, they may require a Court Order to make that happen. 

Some of our so-called Digital Assets are not Digital assets at all, but are licences that end on death. 

For example, if you have a kindle book reader, you do not own any of the titles on your kindle, you have a license to use them during your lifetime, and when you die that licence dies with you. It is the same as such music streaming services such as Spotify. You have a right to listen to the music during your lifetime, but that ends on the moment of your passing. 

If people have favourite books or music to hand onto your loved ones, they must own them in hardcopy forms. There are other digital assets where people do have rights, but which cannot be handed on in the same as physical objects. These include some digital photographs, copy right, domain names, loyalty points and email content. 

Terms and Conditions 

There is considerable variation in the rules laid down by digital assets by technology companies. 

Facebook and Instagram allow the page of a deceased person to be memorialised; a legacy contact can also be nominated in advance to manage such a page. 

Google allows users to select an executor if their account has been inactive for three months or more. Apple will only allow access if somebody has left a will, or there is a Court Order. 

Organising your Digital Legacy. 

The Digital Legacy Association offers a checklist of anybody wanting to organise their legacies. 

  1. If you have a security password on a mobile phone, or any other electrical device, think about how best to manage your passwords, so that an executor or a loved one can access them after your death.
  2. If you have a social media account such as Facebook, download your photos and videos from the service, and pass them to your next of kin. You may also want to provided administration access to your social media accounts to someone you trust.
  3. If you have online subscriptions or bank accounts, make suitable plans for each.
  4. If you have photos or videos stored on electrical devices, or on a company hosted server, you may want to make a folder of your favourite photos and share them with a friend or family member.

Sharing can be done via the internet service, or by using an external memory stick on a hard drive. 

If you need any assistance please contact us.