Recent statistics suggest that as few as 1/3 of people have made a Will detailing what will happen to their properties, money and other tangible assets on their death and have put measures into place to ensure that their estates are dealt with in accordance with their wishes. However, in an increasingly digital age, a huge amount of our lives and some of our most important possessions now reside in a completely digitised format and it is apparent that even fewer people have considered how these might be dealt with on their death.
Photographs, videos, social media accounts, emails and other digital documents all form a large part of most people's lives and it is a particularly concerning thought that access to these may be lost following a death. In many cases the memories and pictures left behind are one of the key parts of someone's legacy and if these have not been considered when putting into place Wills or Powers of Attorney, then the ability to deal with the digital aspects of a person's life after their death or incapacity may be lost.
STEP (the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners) recently commissioned a YouGov poll of 2,000 people in the UK, in which 64% of respondents said that what happens to their sentimental digital possessions after they have gone is either important or very important to them, but 57% have made no plans at all for passing on their digital assets.
In order to help to raise awareness of the issues surrounding digital assets and to encourage people to take action for their own digital assets, STEP have launched their ‘Protect your digital memories for future generations’ campaign. The campaign has a dedicated website at www.memories.step.org which aims to raise awareness of the issues surrounding digital assets, encourage people to talk about their wishes with their friends and family and to use the digital legacy tools available on various social media platforms, such as Apple, Facebook and Google, amongst others.
These digital legacy tools can be set up quickly and easily and provide you with the ability to choose who can access your accounts following a loss of capacity or after you die. Without these legacy tools, the terms and conditions of most accounts mean that access by another party other than the account holder is impossible. STEP's website provides an easy and accessible guide to setting up your legacy contacts for the various accounts, which will serve as an invaluable tool for your loved ones in the future.
There are of course many other forms of digital assets, aside from those holding sentimental value, such as crypto-currency or intellectual property rights, which also require serious consideration and should be adequately provided for in your estate planning.
At Morton Fraser we know how important it is for our clients to have peace of mind when it comes to their personal affairs, and in an increasingly digital world, we also need to take stock of the intangible assets which form such important parts of our lives. If you wish to discuss further options to safeguard your digital assets in your Wills and Powers of Attorney, in order to ensure these can be accessed and protected by your loved ones in the future, then please do get in touch to see how we can assist.
The content of this webpage is for information only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for specific advice. Morton Fraser LLP accepts no responsibility for the content of any third party website to which this webpage refers. Morton Fraser LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.