Archive for January, 2012
Sarah Roberts, a wills and estate lawyer with Charles Lucas & Marshall looks at the growing issue of digital assets in the event of death.
Q. What will happen to my digital photographs, MP3s, MP4s and e-books, when I die?
Many people in today’s society have financially valuable digital music, video and e-book collections; yet very few have considered what will happen to their collection when they die and what information would be needed to access and transfer those digital assets.
Generally, these “digital assets” are the same as any other property you own and will pass to your heirs. However, some online service providers include “non-transferability” clauses in their terms and conditions which can make it more difficult to access data they hold.
If you haven’t made a Will, then the law (the “intestacy rules”) decides who will receive any transferable digital assets – and it may not be the person you want. If you have made a Will, did you give sufficient thought to your digital assets and include specific provisions to deal with them?
Q. What do I need to do to make sure that my digital assets are inherited by the right people?
Your “executors” or “administrators” are responsible for collecting together all of your assets and distributing them to the correct people under your Will or the intestacy rules. Will they know you have digital assets, where to look for them and how to access them? If not, your valuable files and memories could be lost forever.
You should consider:
- Creating a list of your online accounts, electronic devices, data storage devices and their associated passwords
- Store a copy of your digital asset and password list at your solicitors or at your bank
- Speak to your family and friends to make sure they know what you want to happen and who has access to your usernames and passwords
- Review your Will (or make a Will), to say who should receive your digital assets
- Create backups of the most important assets and store them at your solicitors or at your bank
- Don’t forget to regularly update your password list and backups as well as regularly reviewing your Will
Q. Are there any risks I should be aware of?
The most important thing is not to compromise your security. If you create a list of usernames and passwords, make sure it is not openly accessible.
A digital list should be password protected and you should limit the people you give the password to. Ideally, keep your list on a device separate from your computer (e.g. a CD, USB memory stick, etc) and in a secure location away from your home.
An alternative solution is to store your account and file information in an “online vault”. Various companies offer this service and some can even shut down accounts for you and delete data you don’t want passed on. Be especially careful about security though, because this sort of data storage could be a magnet for hackers/identity theft and encryption is no guarantee that your data is safe.
For further information contact Sarah Roberts on email@example.com or 01488 682506.
Solicitors, Charles Lucas & Marshall have appointed another specialist to their wills and estate planning team.
Sarah Roberts has joined the firm’s Newbury office where she will work on existing accounts and develop her own client portfolio. Sarah has previously worked for national firms, Ward Hadaway, Lester Aldridge and The Inheritance Planning Company.
“Charles Lucas & Marshall is renowned for its expertise in wills and estate planning and has one of the biggest teams in this region,” explained Sarah. “This will give me the opportunity to diversify and move forward with my career.”
Demand for legal services around inheritance tax planning, probate and issues relating to the elderly has increased rapidly in the last five years.
Sarah Roberts can be contacted on 01635 521212 or firstname.lastname@example.org