What are digital legacies in wills and why they are important?
The rise of internet users has dramatically increased over the past decade, with Facebook being the first social media network to hold 1 billion registered accounts in its database. This figure shows how crucial it is to make arrangements for any digital legacies during your lifetime.
A digital legacy is the information that is available concerning an individual after their death. The type of digital legacies may include:
- Gaming accounts
- Social media profiles
- Any other information stored online and all interaction that an individual has with another over the internet is also included.
If a person posts a comment on someone’s Instagram post, this information can be used to form part of a digital legacy and so it is not always straightforward to determine how this piece of information can be used after death. Every company will have its own terms and conditions as to how an account is run and it can be exhausting trying to get a hold of social media sites to inform them of the bereavement. This is why MLS advises clients to make a list of all their digital information, whether it is personal or financial.
Ownership of digital legacies after death
After an individual dies, digital legacies are usually owned by the beneficiary of the will and the online services that store the information. It is a good idea to read up on the end of life policies that each website/provider has in place to ensure that you put all the right procedures in place. For example, Twitter’s policy on this matter includes assisting family members or other authorised individuals with recording a death. They require information such as information about the deceased, a copy of the family member’s ID, and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate in order to close the account. Under no circumstances do they allow anyone access to the deceased individual’s accounts, which means that precious moments may be lost forever if they are not backed up beforehand. There are a number of websites that provide free information and resources on this issue like The Digital Legacy Association and Dying Matters who have Social Media Will templates available to use.
- Free services like LastPass manage all your online accounts and passwords in once place, which could be useful for the executor of the will to look at.
- Check Google’s Inactive Account Manager to control who your information should be passed on to after death.
- Keep a record of accounts that generate income such as YouTube, monetised blogs or PayPal so you can decide who will benefit from these.
- Memorialisation- Some social media sites like Facebook have an option to memorialise a deceased individual where friends and family members can share memories of that person.
For more information on digital legacies and what to include in a will, contact us on 01244 478730 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by: Mahum Fatima