You may have made a will or thought about the money, property and personal items you want to pass on but have you considered your digital legacy? With preparations being made for the Digital Legacy Conference 2019 which takes place in Germany this May, it reminds us that although digital legacy is a relatively new phenomenon it is becoming increasingly talked about.
Firstly, who knows about your online banking, your e-mail accounts, online shopping accounts and your social networking presence such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? It is unlikely that you have paperwork such as bank statements for your online banking so accounts could easily be missed. Virtual currency like Bitcoin has a value which forms part of your estate and all your assets must be declared for inheritance tax purposes including digital assets.
Providing someone with details of all your online accounts puts them in an awkward position as they could unknowingly commit a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. Instead the Law Society recommends that you make a list of your digital assets and ensure the list is kept up to date so that whoever deals with your affairs when you have gone can contact the relevant companies.
You can also consider if you would want your social media accounts to be closed upon your death or to remain open. However, be aware that keeping accounts open can lead to “the virtual ghost” such as automatic birthday reminders which can be distressing for friends and family. Facebook can be converted to a “commemorative” page to avoid such problems.
You should also be aware that any content you have paid to download such as films, music and books probably does not belong to you. Generally you only receive a licence to use the content yourself and downloads cannot be passed on like physical books and CD’s. It was widely reported that Bruce Willis intended to bring a test case as he wanted to leave his extensive digital music library to his daughters but this has never been confirmed.
Finally, consider that you probably store your photographs on your computer these days rather than having printed pictures in albums and you may want to ensure that your family can access these.
At Bretherton Law we can advise you on providing information about your digital legacy when you make or review your will. Arrange an appointment with us on 01727 869293 or book online to ensure that your family have full information about your digital legacy.