Did you know you can nominate a Legacy Contact for your Apple ID?

Lottery tickets, air miles and even football season tickets are probably the last thing you’d think about when it comes to assets in your will. But in today’s increasingly digital world, it’s time we all woke up to the reality that online assets are becoming just as important as offline ones.

What do you think you own?

Actually, digital assets are arguably more important as it can be difficult to prove who actually owns them. Unlike physical assets, such as houses or cars, which may come with paperwork attached to them as proof of ownership, any data held by social media accounts, for example, could arguably be seen as belonging to them - even if a profile is in your name.

Online banking

Even everyday things like online banking or PayPal accounts are no easier. We see cases time and time again where distraught family members come to see us so that they can gain access to a loved one’s bank account following sudden illness, only to find they are stuck, unable to pay bills, mortgages or care home fees on their behalf as they don’t have the right paperwork.

At the very least, families should be thinking about drafting a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) as soon as possible. Without it, you could find it’s extremely difficult to gain access to do anything, and you will certainly struggle to get access to their accounts to pay bills on their behalf.

But, LPAs go beyond bank accounts. We heard the recent story of a lady who, despite having an LPA for her mother, was having difficulty securing a refund from Sainsbury’s on her mother’s behalf because they insisted they needed to speak to her mother, the account holder, herself.

If larger organisations are still not geared up for every day things like grocery shopping, how can we expect the rest of the world to keep up?

Well, that might be about to change

Technology giant Apple has just launched a new service that enables users of Apple ID to nominate a legacy contact. Think about everything that is stored on your device. Photos, banking apps, payment methods - loads of data. When you die, there could be many complications over who has the right to access your details - but nominating a legacy contact removes all that doubt and should hopefully make the process more straightforward to allow a family member to access your account.

In a world where things are becoming increasingly digital, we hope other companies will follow suit and enable similar rules - and that this may be the beginning of the end of complicated who-owns-what debates over someone’s digital assets when they pass away.

Would you like some advice relating to your will or LPA? Contact the private client team at Downs Solicitors for more information.

Joanna Pashley

Joanna Pashley

Senior Associate

Tel: +44 (0)1306 502959

Office: Dorking Office

Email: j.pashley@downslaw.co.uk