What happens to your digital assets when you die?
Who can access them?
As our personal and business lives become increasingly digitalised, it becomes even more important to consider how digital assets and digital wealth are protected and dealt with on our death, or disability.
What will happen to your Facebook account when you die?
What about all your photos shared on social media, your texts with loved ones, or your music or documents on Cloud storage systems?
What happens to your online or virtual business when you die or suffer impaired capacity?
Your business may have the ability to produce income or be sold, but is of no value if your loved ones can’t access it, or don’t know it exists.
What about your LinkedIn, Paypal, Gmail, Twitter, Skype, Instagram, Ebay, accounts, (to name a few)?
What about your passwords? Who will have access to and control over them if you die or suffer incapacity?
The law is very clear about how our physical property is dealt with when someone dies, but currently there is no legislation in Australia dealing with digital estate and succession planning, or managing digital wealth.
Despite this (or perhaps because of it), we still need to consider these issues, because our online presence contains much of our personal, sensitive, valuable and important information, which must be dealt with appropriately when we die or suffer impaired capacity.
What are digital assets?
Digital assets include online virtual business, accounts of sentimental value (including photos, music and private messages), social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) blogs, email accounts and numerous other online accounts (including bank accounts, Paypal, Ebay).
Why should we be concerned?
Different online organisations have different policies (and in some instances no policies) when it comes to death and digital assets.
Matters can be further complicated by international laws which may apply, depending on the origin of the online organisation.
If your deceased loved one has not left passwords or log in details, or directions on how they wish their digital presence to be dealt with on their death, (i.e. to access the accounts or to close them) or included powers for executors to deal with them in their will, a court order may be required to deal with the assets (if they can be accessed or dealt with it all) which can be costly and difficult to obtain.
You should also be concerned about identity theft or unauthorised access to sensitive information, if relevant organisations aren’t made aware of your loved one’s death.
To make it easier for your loved ones when you die, and to protect your privacy, it is important to start thinking about your digital assets and digital estate plan now.
Garland Waddington can assist.
Don’t hesitate to contact us to help you plan for your digital afterlife, and to allow your family access to your digital assets.
If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (07) 5443 4866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.