When writing a Will, your first thought are usually be about how your estate and possessions are passed on to your loved ones. In the digital age, there is much more to consider than just physical assets.
This question, submitted to the This is Money (TiM) website, caught our attention…
"I have started writing a Will so I know who my assets will go to when I die, but what will happen to all the photos, videos and music I have stored online?
I want these to go to my loved ones - and for them to be able to access my emails if they need to. How does it work?"
What Does The Law Say?
As it stands, there is no formal legislation regarding online accounts of the deceased. Data including social media profiles, files stored online, email accounts and accounts on ecommerce websites such as Amazon and eBay all have different policies attached to them in the event of the owner’s passing.
You may wish to allow specific relatives access to your accounts, however depending on the website, it may not be that simple...
What Do The Websites Say?
TiM runs down the different procedures for a number of different sites such as Facebook, iTunes, Gmail and Twitter, highlighting how complicated the process can be for a relative to recover a locked account. Our digital legacies are growing ever more important, so it is crucial that you leave instructions on how you want your accounts to be handled once you have passed away.
Keeping a list of all of your digital accounts is highly recommended. It could be an impossible task for loved ones to sift through old emails trying to find out which accounts you are actually signed up to. That is of course assuming that they are able to access your emails in the first place!
Consider storing a list of your accounts with their passwords with your Will, and include specific requests for who you would like to access them. Until widespread legislation is passed for digital legacy, it may be wise to protect your accounts for the future.