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Time To Think Of Digital Assets When Assessing Wealth

17 Oct 2017

When it comes to wills, trusts, estates etc., we naturally think of our property, money and perhaps family heirlooms, when assessing our wealth.

However, as a London wills and trusts experts, it has become more evident to us at Pindoria Solicitors that the changing times means we need to look into what we hold in the online world as well.

Of course, we realise the majority of an individual’s assets generally are in the real world, but a music library, social media photo album or PayPal accounts should also be taken into account.

It’s a strange situation as despite them being non-existent in physical terms, their monetary worth is often very real, with online assets often being sold for hundreds upon thousands of pounds.

With the online world still really only in its infancy and as the value of these online accounts increases, they begin to take up a larger proportion of an individual’s overall wealth.

Here at Pindoria Solicitors, we believe it’s only natural that someone will want to ensure that their digital assets are passed on in line with their wishes, as opposed to disappearing into the black hole of cyberspace.

In order to avoid this, it’s important that accounts are dealt with in the appropriate way after death.

Of course, much is dependent on the type of account concerned. Assets can either be bequeathed, memorialised, taken down or deactivated. Whilst it will tend to be just online accounts that are considered in this way, digital assets can often be accrued in less obvious ways, which can be forgotten about. These can include point’s cards, air miles and even gaming inventories.

Also, for some individuals, the worth of an asset may exist beyond value in itself, instead held within intellectual property. Where something has been created as an original whether it’s an article, artwork or video, there is the probability that it will hold value.

Digital assets with sentimental value have a strong significance in some cases. Personal photos, music and videos are increasingly being saved online with significant amounts of sentimental files being stored in the ‘cloud.’

Whilst the world changes and assets now reside online, the law is yet to appropriately account for this.

Websites and social media platforms have their own rules in how they deal with consumer data. So, in order to provide executors with the best chance of getting hold of digital assets in the future, it’s important that clients are advised appropriately.

Although the law is muddy where bequeathing of digital assets is concerned, it’s recommended that clients should compile a list of online assets, which they wish to bequeath and clear instructions on how to access them. Also, to ensure that these accounts remain secure, confidential information such as passwords should be stored separately to the Will.

It makes sense that soon a digital Will can be introduced, enabling individuals to create a secure inventory of their assets online, which is unlocked to the relevant beneficiaries upon death.

However, in the meantime, we should do all we can to ensure all our growing portfolio of digital assets are accessible if we wish to pass them onto loved ones.

Anybody wishing to know more about this topic, or anything to do with Wills, trusts and estates should contact us at Pindoria Solicitors today. We are happy to help.