More and more people are starting to consider what happens to their digital assets after death. ‘Digital assets’ is a broad term that encompasses social network profiles, online photo and music libraries, monetised blogs, or even cryptocurrencies. These things can be of great value in either financial or sentimental terms.

The issue is complicated because there is generally a third party involved in hosting the content, which requires consent to terms and conditions, and sometimes payment to access. There is currently no firm legal status of digital assets, which is why the Law Commission is currently calling on the UK government for clarification of the issue.

The Commission recognises that the need to pass on an online legacy is only going to increase in the future, and aims to ensure that property rights of digital assets should receive full and consistent recognition and protection under the law. This will mean that they can be legally bequeathed without dispute.

If you are considering how you want your digital assets to be treated after your death, consider whether this is for sentimental or financial purposes. If it is simply a case of wanting your family to access photos stored on a social media account or even a mobile phone, make sure they are backed up on a disc or pen drive, or physically printed out.

This is because while the content belongs to the creator, access to the hosting facility may not be considered an automatic legal right. If your digital assets form part of a business, for example, a website or blog that adds monetary value, then it is best to ensure you do not have exclusive access in terms of passwords and user names, so they can be continued.

If there is significant financial value attached to your digital assets, it is best to consult a solicitor or legal professional who will be able to help you make the right decision.

 

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