We all like photos and for over 100 years they’ve served to preserve those poignant moments and important memories. While things may have moved on considerably technology wise, photos continue to play a huge sentimental role in our lives.
We should therefore continue to do our utmost to preserve those memories.
In now what is very much the ‘digital age’, we ought sooner rather than later, to be thinking about what should happen to our online assets after we die – our digital footprint if you will.
This shouldn’t be a mere fleeting thought – this is an exercise we should be engaging in proactively, before it’s too late. Putting proper planning in place so that your digital information is easily accessible, and by someone that you can trust. For example, this might be the executor named in your Will; or another close family member, more so if they’re particularly tech savvy!
Social Media Accounts
From a social media perspective, it’s fortunate that many of the ‘big hitters’ in the tech market –Google, Apple, Facebook to name a few – allow you to plan your digital post-death affairs, allowing you to control what happens to your accounts ahead of time.
Unfortunately, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly in this day and age, there are still technology platforms which draw a blank slate with regard to dealing with post-death digital assets – LinkedIn and Twitter to name but a couple. There appears to be little or no way to safeguard your digital assets by for example being allowed to designate anyone to look after them, though this of course can change, often overnight!
Digital Afterlife Planning
Here’s some useful steps you can take in approaching your digital plan:
- Lists! The simplest way to make sure your loved ones are aware that you own digital assets is to log them all safely in one place;
- As with some of the online platforms mentioned above, you might be able to appoint a specific contact to be able to deal with your digital affairs after you’re gone (for example, Google Play have an intuitive ‘inactive account’ procedure or the next of kin can simply write to them);
- How do you want your online accounts to be handled? While it may be possible to make phone calls to institutions in which your executors may be aware you held an interest, it may be far easier to provide them with account reference numbers and login details and to leave instructions so that they could deal with the asset/s more efficiently.
- Using a password storage system. This could just be a little book; or if you’re confident with technology, an online ‘password manager’ from a reputable source to store your sensitive important personal information in one place securely;
- Ideally, any ‘list’/details should be drawn up in tandem with your Will and stored with the Will accordingly (in a sealed envelope if appropriate).
Your Digital Legacy
While the hope is that all the technology giants will eventually allow a simple, intuitive way for us to decide what should be stored (or indeed ‘memorialised’ in the case of Facebook posts) or otherwise discarded, it would still be in your best interests to make a list and store it safely, preferably with your Will, having made provision in your Will for the existence of the list in question.
Do check out our other Insights on Digital Assets and if you’d like further, more detailed guidance on the subject, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Private Client Team.
Where to find us
We have offices in Bury St. Edmunds, Sudbury and London.
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