The Importance of Including Digital Assets in Your Will

Following a difficult eighteen months, many of us have reflected on our present circumstances and have felt an increasing importance to protect ourselves and our loved ones for the future. Making and updating a will can bring peace of mind that your possessions and finances are looked after for the long-term, but recent research has revealed that digital assets remain a grey area of awareness.

Conducted by STEP, an association caring for the interests of inheritance advisers, and Queen Mary University of London, the survey discovered that close to 60% of probate professionals have been asked about clarifying digital assets during their recent practice. But with most of us now owning email accounts, social media profiles and digital photographs, how can such data be protected?

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What is a Digital Asset?

Digital assets are belongings kept in an electronic format that have financial and/or sentimental worth. Most commonly this includes images, documents and passwords used online, but it also relates to domain names, data kept on cloud services, music and video files, and cryptocurrency.

Website and social media account providers include terms and conditions related to protection and privacy of its users and their information, which can make it difficult to legally access data such as passwords after a person’s passing. Clarifying the ownership of digital assets is therefore vital.

What Happens to Digital Assets?

In January 2021, the Law Society released the results of a study into digital assets and discovered that 93% of the participants they interviewed had not incorporated them into their will. A further statistic showed that 26% did not know what would happen to their digital assets after their death. This latter figure is unsurprising given the difficulty of deciding possession rights for electronic data.

As mentioned previously, most websites include regulations and guidance on the uploading and subsequent ownership of personal information and images online, which may not be included within a will. However, other objects can be, such as photographs and documents kept on personal devices. It is advisable to make sure the devices themselves are also covered to ensure they are passed on.

Should I Update My Will?

The purpose of a will is to guarantee that anything belonging to you – be it property and possessions to finances and photographs – will be given to those persons of your choosing in the event of your death. If this includes digital assets, then it is highly advisable to amend your will appropriately.

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At A M Davies, we work closely with every client to guarantee that any wills made or amended with us include the consideration of digital assets. Whether you are an active internet user or would just like your digital family photos protected, we will ensure your will covers your specific circumstances.

Please visit our website for more information on making a will or contact us directly for support.