What are digital assets? Why do I need to know about them? By Esther Janalli-Brown

We are living our lives more online nowadays. Our phones have become an essential part of our daily lives – checking emails, paying for items, listening to your favourite playlist. The Covid 19 pandemic forced many more of us to become technically savvy at short notice, whether it be working from home, facetiming relatives or online shopping.


How many of us have social media accounts, online banking, cloud accounts for photos and music? What about online shares, cryptocurrencies and many other things. These are digital assets and you probably have more than you think.


But what happens to them after we die? Some digital assets will have a monetary value, such as a PayPal account or Bitcoin but others can have sentimental value such as photos or a Facebook account. It is essential to plan for what happens to these assets when you die or lose mental capacity.


The first problem that occurs when someone dies or loses mental capacity is knowing about the digital assets in the first place. If you do not keep a physical record of your assets, how will anyone know they exist?


The second issue is accessing those assets. Once the assets have been identified, it can then be a problem to overcome security to access them.


Some digital asset companies such as Facebook are ahead of the game and have included settings where you can nominate someone to manage your account after your death. This obviously requires some forward planning on your part.


Cryptocurrencies cause issues as the cryptocurrency owner will have a digital wallet for their digital currency. This is usually accessed by a crypto password. How can the family or personal representatives gain access after death if they neither know about the currency nor know the password?


It is therefore important to plan ahead and think about what you have and ideally store a hard copy list of your digital assets with your Will. We recommend that all of our clients make a Will in any event.


This hard copy list will ensure that your personal representatives have a full overview of your assets and they can be dealt with as part of your estate. It would also be a good idea to leave a letter of wishes for your personal representatives to follow any instructions, for example you may wish for all your social media accounts to be deleted on your death.


If you would like any further advice or guidance on the issues raised above then please do not hesitate to contact Esther Janalli-Brown on 01306 884432 or email ejbrown@meaby.co.uk for more information.