Estate Planning for Digital Assets
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What are digital assets?

Digital assets are intangible records or files that are stored online. Usually, we can only access these files through a device such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

A digital asset can include:

Estate Planning

People have always seemed to be reluctant to plan for their mortality even with traditional assets. Research from Canada Life reveals that 59% of adults in the UK have still not written a Will.

The rise in digital assets has posed difficulties and presented a new angle to consider n estate planning. Many people may believe that they do not even own digital assets as they have never brought cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and therefore don’t consider it in their planning. But this is almost always incorrect. It is important to educate people on what digital assets are so that they can understand the value they hold.

For example, many of these types of assets only contain a sentimental value for the holder, it is almost like the modern-day equivalent of a family photo album which can hold great importance.

In accordance with Section 25 of the Administration of Estates, when someone dies the Personal Representatives have the responsibility to deal with the deceased’s estate. While tangible assets might be more apparent, digital assets might not show up in a search. Even after being identified, accessing online accounts after death is extremely difficult at present.

Raising Awareness

The education around digital assets is expanding and ongoing, professional bodies such as STEP have been raising awareness in this area. This month STEP launched a ‘Protect your Digital Memories‘ campaign to encourage individuals to plan ahead for what happens to these assets once someone passes away.

Emily Deane, Head of Government Affairs at STEP, said:

“With so much of our lives now lived online, we must make plans to pass on our digital memories or risk them being lost on the Cloud.

We know from our previous research with Estate Planning Practitioners that not being able to access a loved one’s digital assets can be a great source of distress for grieving families.”

Fraser and Fraser discussed digital assets in one of the most recent webinars we hosted with Guest Speaker, Susan Shuttle. Susan looked at the importance of digital assets when taking instructions for Wills and in the course of the administration of an estate.

You can watch our digital assets webinar and all our other webinars on our website here.

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