Select Page

Social Media And Digital Assets In Estate Planning

by | May 15, 2022 | Wills & Estates

A digital asset includes a wide variety of electronic records and files that are stored online, on mobile devices or on personal computers.  Essentially, any digital record that you keep is a digital asset and should be dealt with in your Will.

Digital assets can include:

    • Email accounts;
    • Social media accounts;
    • Online documents;
    • Online banking accounts;
    • Cryptocurrency;
    • E-Commerce accounts such as eBay, Amazon, etc
    • Photos saved online or on the cloud;
    • Online dating or gaming accounts;
    • E-Books;
    • Loyalty benefit programs such as frequent flyer points, FlyBuys, etc; and
    • All other personal information stored electronically or online.

It is important to understand that some of the above may not be digital assets.  An example of this is an online bank account.  While the online account to access these accounts is a digital asset, the liquid cash held in the accounts is not.  It is the same with cryptocurrency – the currency itself is not a digital asset however the access platform, blockchain and unique private key are.

How do I deal with digital assets after my death?

The best way to ensure that your digital assets are managed after your death is to make a Digital Estate Plan at the time of creating or updating your Will.

Digital Estate Plans

To create a Digital Estate Plan, you need to:

Take an inventory of all of your digital assets

This may seem like a large task and for most of us, it will be as so much of our lives are now stored online.  It is important to be thorough with your inventory and list for ever digital asset in your name the relevant username and password.  If you have security questions associated with these accounts, it can be helpful to your ‘digital executor’ to be provided with these and their answers.

Make decisions as to how each of them are to be dealt with after your death

Once you have made your inventory, you need to make some decisions as to how your digital assets are to be dealt with – it may be that you want some accounts deleted or closed or maybe assets provided to a loved one.

Appoint a ‘digital executor’ to deal with your digital assets

When appointing a digital executor, this is the person that will have access to all online accounts and will be responsible for handling how they are to be dealt with.  It could be that this is the same executor you appoint to manage your estate under your Will or, it could be someone else that you trust to attend to this.

A digital executor is not the same as your executor appointed in your Will as it is not a legally recognised position or enforceable designation however, it is helpful to include this in your Will as it provides your executor with knowledge of who you wanted to be given this responsibility.

Create a Digital Estate Plan and include this in your Will.

To have your Digital Estate Plan legally binding, it is essential to include reference to it in your Will.  The Digital Estate Plan itself is not included in your Will because upon your death, should a Grant of Probate be required, your Will becomes a public document and to list all of digital assets with usernames and passwords in your Will is not wise.  Also, by referencing your Digital Estate Plan only, it means that you can update details and include future digital assets to your Plan as necessary without the need to make a new Will.

How can Nevett Ford help?

At Nevett Ford, we work with our clients to provide them with tailored solutions when making a Will including the best methods to deal with digital assets.  If you need to create or update your Will to include digital assets, please contact our Wills Lawyers in Melbourne at melbourne@nevettford.com.au or on 03 9614 7111.