The world is becoming more digitised and inter-connected as information and communication becomes more accessible and simpler to manage. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and iTunes, amongst others, allow us to access, share and store messages, images and music at the click of a button. But what happens to these ‘digital assets,’ when you are no longer around?
What is the problem?
Even if you do have ownership of the assets, for example photographs stored on a laptop, it may not be quick or simple for others to access these. Frequently the service provider will not permit third parties, such as your family, to access this data. Many service platforms also state in their terms and conditions that usernames, passwords and other codes are not to be disclosed on the grounds of confidentiality.
There have been some developments in recent years. For example Facebook, on the death of a user, may allow the user’s Executors to access the profile and memorialise it. Nonetheless family members still regularly encounter problems in accessing and preserving a loved one’s data.
What is the Solution?
- Consider which digital assets you want to preserve or pass on to a beneficiary.
- Store any documents, files or photographs that are only held digitally on to an external hard drive.
- Make a Will or update your existing Will with a specific clause dealing with your digital assets, and review this regularly to ensure it is kept up-to-date.
- Consider keeping a list of usernames and passwords in a secure location with instructions (maybe in your Will) as to how the list can be accessed.
This is a developing area of the law and there is no one size-fits-all approach. Vyman Solicitors can advise you on how you would like your digital assets to pass on your death and how this can be set out in your Will.
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