In the last few days I have been helping out at a Conference my brother and sister run called Code.
I was having a discussion at lunch about the need to protect your online or digital assets. It is not a novel discussion and lets face it who really thinks about what would happen to your online accounts such as your Facebook and twitter accounts, email address(es), cloud, and online financial details; not to mention your laptop, desktop, hard drives and other devices protected by passwords .
As many of you haven’t thought about making a Will what will happen to these digital assets if you die or become incapacitated?
Just as it is prudent (and I would suggest necessary) to have a valid and up to date Will – you should have a digital inventory setting out all of your relevant usernames, passwords and secret questions, to enable simple access to your personal and financial information.
In the event that you are incapacitated (this is why a power of attorney is important) your appointed Attorney can control and deal with your digital assets.
This inventory should be stored securely – but needs to be accessible to your Attorney or Executor should they need it (and remember your executor will need it!)
Importantly make sure that you update this information when you change your passwords.
At present the laws of succession do not allow specifically for the control of digital assets. Online information is often governed by the terms of service of places like Facebook and is not physical property that can be transferred to a third party. However like wearing a seatbelt or having your car serviced it is always preferable to take steps to minimise the risks by making plans for your digital assets to be properly managed after you are unable to do so.