Wills - Life and Death in the Digital Age
Posted on 21st March 2022 at 11:47
In this modern age digital assets are becoming more prevalent in everyday society and for everyday people.
The law surrounding Wills is archaic and does not cater for digital assets, their intangible nature, and changeable features.
The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) has brought this issue to the forefront of legal minds, and you can find out more information here.
You may be thinking ‘I don’t have digital assets my estate is simple’ scoffing as we sometimes do at new technology and complex cryptocurrencies. Usually and traditionally, focus lies on tangible items such as property, money, or personal items.
But digital assets can include not only cryptocurrencies but everyday items such as photos, videos, emails, your social media accounts, bank accounts, music library, loyalty cards and more.
These assets may or may not be of financial value but could be of significant sentimental value to you or your loved ones. In some cases, specialist valuations should be sought for things such as domain names or non-fungible tokens ‘NFT’s’.
It could be important too, to protect yourself from identify theft or to ensure that certain files or accounts are kept private and confidential after you are gone.
Obviously, the largest issue and usually the most valuable assets are cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to name just a couple. Cryptocurrencies exist electronically and can be stored in ‘cold wallets’ or ‘hot wallets’. Your executors are responsible for collecting in and valuing in these assets just like any other asset in your estate and distributing these in line with your Will or the rules of intestacy. This may be more difficult for your executors as they do not have anything tangible to assist them to grant access and there is a real risk of your cryptocurrency being lost forever, together with the value, if you do not inform your representative what you have and how to access it.
It is important and helpful to make a list of your digital assets to provide to your solicitor or executor in your Will naming the assets/accounts and where to find them. You could tell your representative what you’d like them to do with the asset after your death and ensure you let them have the relevant authorisations to access your accounts. Feel free to complete our asset log which will assist you with this.
The four main options you or your executors or representatives have are to memorialise your accounts (as seen with Facebook), sell and release the value of accounts, closing accounts or allowing the accounts to sit in abeyance indefinitely.
Sometimes providing passwords and determining what will happen to your digital assets on death can become complex as you will need to check the provider and their individual service agreements.
Avery Walters can assist with these complex issues by helping you incorporate digital assets in your Will, helping administer an estate and more.
Private Client Solicitor
Making a Will is easy
At Avery Walters our team of specialists can provide advice about Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts and Probate.
Contact us on 0113 2007480 or email us on email@example.com to arrange your free initial, no obligation consultation with a specialist.
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