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Legal News | 23.03.23

Ctrl Alt Delete – How to prepare for your digital afterlife

Many aspects of our lives are now found within the digital world, whether that be images on an Instagram account or documents stored in the Cloud. However, unlike your physical assets, you may not have considered what happens to your online presence and digital assets when you die.

What are digital assets?

Digital assets are generally anything created and stored digitally which includes images, videos and written content; it can also include social media or online accounts.

What happens when you die?

At present, there is no Act of Parliament that specifically addresses what happens to these assets after your death in the UK. To address this, the Digital Devices (Access for Next of Kin) Bill was introduced in January 2022 to grant next of kin right of access to a deceased’s digital devices. However, this is not yet part of the law and it is unlikely to be anytime soon.

In the meantime, there are different ways that you can deal with your digital assets and online presence:

1.   Grant right of access to your digital assets in your Will to named individuals such as your executors. You can additionally appoint ‘Social Media Executors’ to deal specifically with your online presence. Some online services also allow you to appoint someone who will have the authority to control your account after your death (for instance Facebook and Apple). You may also wish to leave your online presence to a beneficiary of your choice to deal with after your death, whether they have an actual or sentimental value.

2.  Make a (paper-based!) digital directory listing your digital assets, social media accounts and devices (such as phones and laptops) and cloud storage accounts (such as Apple iCloud and Google Drive). This will help your executors identify the extent of your online presence.

3.  Back up the items which are most important to you whether they are photos, videos, music or documents, to an external hard drive. This ensures that you can decide who has access to the items after your death, rather than leaving such a decision to a technology company.

4.   Record decisions of what you wish to happen to your online accounts, for instance do you wish for your Facebook page to be deleted or become a memorial account for friends and family?

If you have any questions or wish to update your Will to reflect your digital assets, please contact Wansbroughs’ Private Client team on wealth@wansbroughs.com.


Posted By Our Wills, Tax, Trusts & Probate Team