Digital assets are a reality today. Most of us are accustomed to physical assets (movable and immovable) but today’s world is very different. We have email, social media, digital locker, subscription (online media) accounts. Who gets to access them after you die?
- To begin with, very few spend time writing a Will.
- Even if a will has been written it usually covers houses, cars, stocks.
- Have people started including their online assets? Access details of email accounts, social networking accounts, PayPal accounts? Doubt it.
- If you don’t have a well defined Will when it comes to online assets it will become very difficult for you to get access to those assets. In fact, PayPal doesn’t even entertain your requests if you are not the executor/beneficiary of that PayPal account.
- By default, digital assets are “the property of the estate, even if there is no value attached to it. Blogs and photographs may be subject to intellectual property law.
- Facebook puts the profile of deceased person into a “memorial” stage upon notification of their death. Access is changed to “friends only”. Facebook will remove the account at the request of the next of kin.
How to safeguard your digital assets in your Will?
It is unsafe to include the login credentials of your accounts in your Will as several copies are made of them over time. It is best to save all credentials (including answers to Secret Questions) in apps such as LastPass.
The login credentials of LastPass (or a similar app) should be kept in a safe place which the executor can access and hand over to the person as per the Will.
It is best to use the services of a competent lawyer who is conversant with new age technologies as this will help to include this clause in your will.