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  • Overview

    What is a digital asset?

    Digital assets are the norm and many people have access to photos, videos, music, e-books, blogs, movies, emails, conversations, social media, games, bank accounts, medical records, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to name but a few and even maintain their identity all online. Collectively these are referred to as ‘digital assets’. These may be of a financial, sentimental, intellectual and social value to you, your family and friends.

    Why are digital assets important?

    It is important to plan for what happens to your digital assets when you die or if you lose mental capacity as they may have:-

    A financial value such as online bank accounts, online gaming accounts, bitcoin, photograph sharing accounts, popular domain names and websites.

    A sentimental value to your family and friends such as photos or emails that can be stored on a smart phone, on an online photo sharing website, cloud storage or social network account will need to be considered. Preserving these treasured memories can be significant.

    An intellectual value such as domain names, website content, blogs, copyrights and trademarks, art and manuscripts. These are difficult to value.  Specialist advice is needed.

    A social value would relate to social media and gaming accounts.

    How should I organise my digital legacy on death?

    It would be advisable to make an inventory of all digital assets, where to find them with usernames. Make sure these are updated when they change and provide this to your personal representative or attorney. Take legal advice to ensure that what you decide is effective.

    Are there any security issues to be aware to be aware of on death?

    Confidentiality regarding email and Facebook accounts which may reveal the existence of relationships or interests that were unknown.

    Identity theft needs careful consideration where identities can be stolen through online hacking.

    It may be preferred for the individual to decide before death whether their profile is to be memorialised or shut down.

    What can be gifted under a will?

    Care should be taken when deciding who receives your personal possessions.  This would include devices such as a laptops or mobile phones. Whilst your personal possessions to include these items may be gifted to one person, the definition does not include digital assets. There may need to be a separation between digital devices and the information stored on them.

    The deceased’s ownership of the device does not necessarily mean that they also owned all the rights associated with the information stored on it. For example, an iPhone device, owned by the deceased that has an active iTunes account, a gift of the device under the deceased’s will does not mean a gift of the iTunes account. The music on iTunes collection is only a personal licence to use the music according to Apple’s terms of business. This license is not transferrable and terminates on death.

    If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Helen Maddison-White on 01892 701342, email helen.maddison-white@ts-p.co.uk or Helen Stewart on 01892 701398, email helen.stewart@ts-p.co.uk

    This article first appeared in The Times of Tunbridge Wells

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Jargon Buster