Over the last several years we have become increasingly more reliant on digital platforms to manage our finances, investments and many other valuable assets.
We are used to accounting for physical property in our Wills, but digital accounts and possessions can be forgotten about, and if passwords get lost, your loved ones could lose out on a substantial part of their inheritance.
Anything that holds a value is an asset and digital assets are any possessions you have which are managed or stored digitally. Examples include online-managed bank and savings accounts (including apps), online payment accounts (for example, PayPal or Amazon), online accounts such as Amazon Kindle and iTunes, and of course cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
You should definitely make sure that your digital assets are accounted for in your Will if you believe that they hold a significant value and if you wish for them to be passed on to your loved ones. If you don’t, they could become lost and your inheritors may never become aware of them.
It is also worth noting that some of these assets may have a tax value. In order to make sure that your assets don’t become subjected to significant sums of inheritance tax, it is recommended to make a provision for them in your Will.
However, there are some caveats. Some digital assets which you think you own, for example digital music, films or books purchased through an online provider, may not actually belong to you and therefore cannot be passed onto anyone upon your death. Such assets may only be granted to you as an exclusive right of access that is available to you alone. It is advisable to check the Terms & Conditions of your contracts to determine the status of your ownership.
Take some time to make a list of all the digital assets you own and talk to your family and friends about them. Store them in a safe folder, either in a hard copy or digitally on a hard drive or memory stick – something that can be accessed by those closest to you.
When you go to make or amend your Will with your solicitor, talk to them about your digital assets; your solicitor will make sure that they are accounted for and advise on any additional steps you may need to take to ensure that they are protected and passed onto your intended individuals or organisations.
For more information on providing for digital assets in your Will or succession plans, get in touch with our experienced Private Wealth & Succession Planning team.