Digital Assets And Estate Planning
Digital Assets are, broadly speaking, a category of assets which are not ‘tangible’ and can include, for example, media such as photos or videos stored electronically, social media accounts, intellectual property and also crypto currencies.
What are Digital Assets?
Digital Assets are, broadly speaking, a category of assets which are not ‘tangible’ and can include, for example, media such as photos or videos stored electronically, social media accounts, intellectual property and also crypto currencies – which is becoming more and more relevant.
Digital Assets do not, however, encompass items such as the phones or computers on which the assets may be stored.
As technology advances, most estates will comprise Digital Assets in some form or another, from a Facebook account, email account, photos stored in the ‘cloud’, to assets such as Bitcoin or NFTs.
Digital Assets may be of financial or sentimental value and it is important to consider what Digital Assets you may own when making a will, administering an estate, or assisting someone who may have lost capacity.
What do you need to consider when dealing with Digital Assets?
There are three key issues to consider when dealing with Digital Assets; locating, accessing and valuing Digital Assets.
As Digital Assets are not tangible, they may be difficult to locate or to ascertain exactly what is held.
It is, therefore, recommended that you may wish to keep a schedule / inventory of any Digital Assets you own, and where they can be found, to assist when making a will, in the event that someone needs to step in and help you manage your affairs, or when you pass away.
As Digital Assets are often personal to the individual, they may be protected, for example, by passwords.
It is not, however, necessarily lawful to simply provide your passwords to your representatives, whether that be your executor or attorney, so that they can access the assets when required.
Different providers have different requirements to allow access and if you have concerns about access being gained to the assets once you have passed away, or if you no longer retain capacity, you may wish to make contact with the provider to find out their requirements, and possibly even nominate a representative who you would wish to permit to access your assets when you are no longer able to do so.
Some providers, such as Facebook, have a service whereby you can choose to appoint what is known as a legacy contact to manage your account once you have passed away.
It is also possible to, for example, specify the powers your attorneys should have in respect of such assets, when preparing your Lasting Powers of Attorney, and this is something you may wish to consider with your legal adviser.
Once access has been obtained, certain Digital Assets, for example personal photos, may have no financial value at all, but have extreme sentimental value, and some, such as BitCoin may be relatively easy to value.
Certain Digital Assets will, however, be more difficult to value, and you may wish to seek professional assistance in this regard.
Planning for the future made easy
We would recommend that when considering your estate and planning for the future, you take advice from a legal professional, alongside seeking financial advice.
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