Digital assets – what do you think you own?

Whilst writing wills or nominating an individual for a Lasting Power of Attorney, protecting physical assets, such as property or cash, might be the first things to spring to mind. But, in an increasingly digital age, what about any online assets to an estate?

In most cases, physical assets tend to have documents tied to them, such a title deed to a house, for example, or a certificate of authenticity. But online assets can be much more difficult to prove ownership.

When using online services, how often have we blindly accepted terms without really knowing how we are restricted in the use of digital assets? Any data held in social media accounts, for example, may be owned by online service providers, so gaining access could become extremely difficult for any executors.

If you use online banking, Paypal, eBay or even the National Lottery, chances are you will have an online record that will need to be accessed in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. Unless you keep a comprehensive offline record of any login details or a list of where your online assets maybe, you may find that certain assets you own are lost all together.

Some social media sites have started to introduce methods that allows users to “will” their accounts much more easily, although there is still more to be done to ensure you are handling any affairs with the utmost security. It would also be useful to consider how your nominated attorney or executor can access any data that is held online and it would be an good idea to make a list of all places and keep them together with your papers and official documents.

If you would like some further advice relating to your will or Lasting Power of Attorney, contact the Private Client team to see how we can help.

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