RMB Articles

Access to Digital Assets is Essential

Posted 10-11-2014
Written by admin 101

In this digital age, we are increasingly seeing problems created when people die without having considered who to give access to their digital assets and who should know their crucial computer passwords.

Digital assets include:

  • Online banking accounts which hold crucial information such as account and credit card details;
  • PayPal accounts;
  • EBay accounts;
  • Online photo accounts;
  • Material stored on computers or hard drives;
  • Facebook and other social media accounts;
  • Stored documents (including Share portfolios and taxation information).

In an extreme example, if a famous writer was to die unexpectedly leaving several manuscripts partly written or complete on their computer system, it would be important for the executors and beneficiaries to know how to get access to that written intellectual property.

Who knows? A masterpiece may await them.

However, it is just as important for regular mums and dads to make sure they consider who should have the relevant information for access to their bank accounts and digital assets.

When many are die their secret passwords die with them, leaving it impossible for people to crack codes and passwords and therefore making it hard to get access to important digital assets and documents stored on computers.

This may make it difficult for executors to finalise a deceased person’s estate.

To avoid this problem, you should consider making a new Will and you should consider:

  • Making a list of your digital assets and online accounts;
  • Making a record of user names and passwords for each account including answers to any security questions (obviously such a list should be kept in a secure place that only the executors can access, and ideally it should be kept separately from your Will);
  • Giving your executors access to some or all of your digital assets;
  • Providing instructions on how you would like your digital assets to be dealt with: for example whether you want family members reading your personal emails and accessing other personal information or simply deleting all online accounts.

These are important issues to discuss with your estate planning lawyer.