Leading law firm Blake Morgan is encouraging people to protect their digital assets when making a Will, during Dying Matters Week.
Digital assets include blogs, media stores and players such as iTunes and Shutterstock, online gaming accounts such as Xbox Live and Playstation, email and social media accounts, trading sites such as eBay, online bank accounts, and internet payment accounts such as PayPal.
Over recent years, there has been a rise in online business sites and Vlogs that generate revenue from advertising – particularly among younger generations who may not have even considered the need to make a Will at this stage of their life.
The Private Client team at the firm, who specialise in wills and probate, have seen an increase in clients asking what they can do to ensure that their online assets are administered according to their own wishes. In particular, they have seen an increase in clients seeking advice about sentimental digital assets. With more people choosing to store irreplaceable items like photos online, the team have been offering advice on how to make sure they are properly registered and access is available to beneficiaries.
Helen Bunker, Divisional Director of Private Law, commented:
“In an increasingly digital age, it’s no surprise that people are questioning what happens to their online assets when they die – and it is an area that can cause much confusion. It’s easy to make the mistake of assuming you own your digital assets but the reality is that most accounts are actually licenses to use a service that has a lifetime expiry.
“However, there are digital assets with monetary value such as unspent balances in media stores or online payment accounts that can be included in a Will. Digital assets such as blogs or website domains may have digital property rights and in these cases it’s important you appoint an executor who is able to advise on intellectual property issues.”
Digital inheritance checklist:
- Make an inventory – List all of your digital assets in your will, check terms and conditions of your online accounts and if these are able to be inherited, nominate a beneficiary.
- Check your online profile – Some social media accounts such as Facebook have memorial options and you can let them know in advance of your death whether you would like your account memorialised or permanently deleted. Research your options and make sure that any requests you have made to them directly and your passwords are noted in your Will.
- Include sentimental items – If you have digital assets that don’t have monetary value but are sentimental you can add a personal chattels clause in your will to include these.
- Know your IP rights – If you have blogs, website domains or digital artwork that has intellectual property rights then consider a separate legacy clause in your Will.
- Ask the experts – As with any Will, seek professional advice from a qualified solicitor to ensure that your wishes for your digital assets are met.
Blake Morgan’s Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts specialists provide advice on all aspects of wealth protection and inheritance planning for individuals and their families. The team is committed to delivering a personal service and has a solid reputation for providing innovative solutions to meet the needs of their clients. The Legal 500 directory notes “they break down complex issues into an understandable and user-friendly format”, while the Chambers directory agrees “They give very clear explanations without the jargon.”
The firm was recently named as a leader in private client services for wealthy individuals in a listing which identifies the UK’s top law firms. The firm’s private client practice is one of 46 law firms listed by eprivateclient, in a survey which singles out firms providing high quality and professional advice and support to domestic and international clients.
The Private Client team works closely with the firm’s Intellectual Property team to protect online and digital assets.