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The digital revolution which has taken place during the last decade means that many of us own a new form of asset which might be described as “digital estate”. This can include: (i) digital assets such as data, photos, videos, on-line purchased music, films and audio-books, Bitcoins, computer game characters, internet domains, YouTube videos, social media and networking content, computer programmes, software, and software licences; (ii) digital accounts such as email, social networking, online bank accounts, store accounts, iTunes, Kindle or Audible accounts and (iii) digital devices such as laptops, desktop computers, tablets, smartphones and iPods.
A report from Co-operative Funeral Care published in February 2015 found that 75% of adults with an online presence had made no arrangements for their digital assets on their death. More worryingly 78% of the bereaved experienced difficulty in dealing with their loved one’s online accounts and 20% found it so difficult that they simply couldn’t manage it at all. So what can be done?
Dealing effectively with the ownership of digital estate in the event of death presents quite a challenge, not least because there is no universal solution available as the various digital service providers all have their own procedures. For example:-
As can be seen it is a bit of a minefield. There are, however, a number of steps which can be taken to make things easier:
With more and more of daily life conducted online (in December 2014 Facebook reported a staggering 2.39 billion users), the issue of digital assets and their succession on death is likely to become more and more important so it is well worth making sure you have it covered.
At ELP Arbuthnott McClanachan we offer a personal service providing expert advice tailored to your own specific circumstances. Barbara Watson is a member of STEP – the Society of Trust and Executry Practitioners – and has many years of experience advising clients on Wills, Powers of Attorney and Asset Protection. If you have any queries on any of these matters then please do not hesitate to contact Barbara Watson by phone on 0131 312 7276, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We pride ourselves in offering practical, sensitive, best-value advice in what is a technical and complex area.
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