‘Digital Wills’ Could be the Future of Estates

A new consideration for wills has emerged over the past few years – what to consider when it comes to the deceased’s social media, video game and online accounts after their passing.

Ownership of digital files such as word documents, music and image files also need to be taken into account.

Digital Legacy

Advice includes creating a list of all online accounts, including email, bank accounts, social networks and subscriptions to help surviving family members take control of your ‘digital legacy’.

As digital continues to grow in importance and sophistication, it has taken over certain aspects of our lives. Developments such as cloud storage, applications on smartphones and wearable technology means that digital data and accounts have grown in importance, and will need to be recovered after death.

Wills are now starting to include instructions for the executor on how to manage online accounts – such as deactivation or turning the account into a memorial page for others to share and visit.

Internet ‘Presence’

According to research by The Co-Operative funeral service, many have faced difficulties when trying to access the internet accounts of a loved one who has passed away. This leaves accounts open for abuse or hacking that could lead to upset in future years. The continued internet ‘presence’ of those who have passed can also lead to upset. The research revealed that 75% of those surveyed have not taken their digital legacy into consideration when writing their will.

Internet giants such as Facebook and Twitter are now considering protocols to put into place when a user has died. Facebook has unveiled ‘legacy’ settings for its users, whereas Twitter support will now remove a user’s page on request if they have deceased.