DAM! Do you need to consider Digital Asset Management in your Will?.

Beth Johnson provided insight as to ways you can ensure your Will captures all your assets including those digitalised. Creating alternative routes for your executors to fully administer your estate. See the article (pages 34-35) and much more in the second edition of The South East Independent Spring issue

Digital assets are not legally defined but are seen as those things that we associate with being ‘online’.

Some examples are:

  • Email accounts
  • Social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok etc.)
  • Bitcoin
  • Online investments
  • Online bank accounts
  • Websites
  • Domain names
  • Books stored online
  • Online journals
  • Online game accounts  e.g. World of Warcraft
  • Blogs

Accessing digital assets may seem straightforward as most people have a device that holds the majority of their digital assets. The deceased then leaves this device to their loved ones under their Will so they can access their digital assets. Done.

This is not actually the case, especially due to the added security we carry out to avoid cyber-attacks or fraud being committed on accounts. As a result we set complex passwords, memorable words and even facial recognition to eliminate these cyber threats. Loved ones therefore face barriers to accessing digital assets of the deceased if they do not know these details.

There is also the fact that most people do not consider their digital assets when drafting their Will and selecting the executors to administer their estate. As a result, even if the executors have the power to manage digital assets they may not have knowledge of what digital assets there are, or they may lack the relevant skills to manage them.

There are several ways in which you can ensure digital assets are included in your Will. Firstly, you can extend the definition of your personal property so it is not limited to tangible assets. You can also incorporate a specific digital assets clause that makes it clear that your executors can administer all your digital assets.

Something that links to my previous point about ensuring the appointed executors have the relevant knowledge and skills is the appointment of executors. There is the option to appoint separate executors within your Will to manage your digital assets. There is normally one tech whizz in each family who is dragged downstairs in the event that the TV screen turns blue or is frozen on Boris Johnson’s face mid lockdown announcement. Why not consider delegating the management of digital assets to those more capable of doing so?

One important aspect to consider is that digital assets are forever changing. Just like we are making more Amazon purchases each day in lockdown, we are also expanding our digital assets as both our businesses and personal lives are moving online.

It is therefore a good idea to attach a side letter or list to your Will outlining your digital assets. This should be updated often to ensure that your executors have the details required to access and manage your digital assets. The exact form and content of this side letter and your Will is something that a solicitor can assist with drafting. This will ensure none of your digital assets are lost to ‘the cloud’ or the vast and never ending ‘world wide web’.

If you require any further information on Digital Assets, please do not hesitate to contact our Private Wealth team.

The contents of this article are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this article. © Mundays LLP

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