Managing trusts and tax

Publish date

8 June 2017

Digital legacies need legal protection say lawyers

Sarah Nettleship from our Estates, Tax & Succession department speaks to The Law Gazette about digital legacies.

Sarah said, “gaining access to an account after death was ‘fraught with difficulty’ as each website has a different policy. ’As such websites operate across several jurisdictions, it is also unlikely that a change of law in any one jurisdiction would assist families in their request for access.”

Solicitors and legal academics have called for new powers enabling people to decide what happens to their digital legacy when they die, including by making a provision for online data to be included in wills.

The debate over what happens to digital assets after death has made headlines after a court in Germany last week ruled that the parents of a teenage girl had no right to access her Facebook account following her death.

They had sought to see her chat messages and posts to establish whether she had been bullied. Facebook said opening up the account would compromise the privacy of her contacts.

In the UK, online assets such as social media data, rest with the service provider upon death.

Families are able to ask providers for accounts to be deleted or for partial access to them.

The full article is available to read online, first published by The Law Gazette on 8 June 2017: Digital legacies need legal protection say lawyers

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