In years gone by, only material possessions such as property, possessions, and money would be left in a will. While these things still make up a significant portion of the estates left behind today, we’re seeing an increasing number of digital assets included in wills. The idea of a digital legacy is relatively new, but it’s something we all must familiarise ourselves with as our world becomes ever more digitised.
How does leaving a digital legacy differ from a traditional estate? We cover the differences in this guide and discuss how you can ensure your digital assets are protected and passed down to your named beneficiaries after you are gone. Read on to learn more.
What is a Digital Legacy?
Before we dive in, first let’s discuss what exactly we mean by digital legacy and what kind of things can be included in this.
A digital legacy is made up of digital assets. This can encompass a wide range of different things, but most commonly includes things like website domains, email addresses, online accounts, and digital documents.
If you are a business owner, much of your business’s records and paperwork are likely to be stored digitally, and your business will no doubt have a social media presence. All of these things are considered digital assets and can be left as part of your digital legacy.
Digital assets can also include virtual investments such as cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These can often be extremely valuable, so it’s vital you are aware of how to protect these assets in your will.
Finally, digital assets can include things like pictures and videos stored on a computer or mobile device. While these are unlikely to be worth anything financially, they may carry great sentimental and emotional value, so it’s important to consider these as well.
Including Digital Assets in Your Will
The process of including digital assets in your will is simpler than you might expect. You should treat them in the same way as physical assets such as property and possessions.
However, when appointing an executor, it’s important that you ensure they are technically proficient and that they will have the skills and experience required to manage your digital assets in accordance with your wishes.
You will have to leave login and password information to your executors. Otherwise, they will be unable to access and properly manage your digital assets.
Executors will assess your estate after you pass and calculate its value, and they will have to take digital assets into consideration. From there, they will distribute your assets among beneficiaries as per the instructions in your will.
If you fail to include digital assets in your will, they will be passed to a beneficiary in accordance with intestacy laws.
Removing Your Digital Presence
In today’s social media and smartphone-driven world, we are leaving increasingly large digital footprints behind us when we pass.
Many of our digital assets will be of financial or emotional value, and we will want to pass these on to our friends and family after we have gone. However, some of what we leave behind will be of little use or may contain private information that we don’t want to be released.
You can leave instructions in your will for an executor to deal with these digital assets. As well as distributing assets among your beneficiaries, an executor can also ensure other assets are deleted. This can include things like documents, photographs, and social media profiles and content.
Leaving a digital legacy is an increasingly common occurrence. It’s vital that you understand how to do so and what is involved in the process. Appoint a tech-savvy executor who has the skills required to effectively manage and distribute your digital assets.