ARTICLE BY CHARLOTTE BANDAWE
In the ever-evolving digital world we live in, the majority of us have a social media presence and online accounts. So what happens to these when we die?
Your Will and the Digital World
Most of us will never have given this a second thought. Even when making a Will, our online accounts will never normally be mentioned. So now you must think about what you want to happen to your online accounts. Do your family know what you want to happen to them? Will your friends know what to do?
You can leave express instructions to your family and friends detailing how they are to deal with your social media and other online accounts when you have died OR you can include specific instructions in your Will and appoint what is rapidly becoming known as a “Digital Executor”.
This can be different to the traditional Executors appointed under your Will as you may not want your family or close friends having access to certain personal information you keep online.
You may decide that your digital Executor is to be a professional who is given the task of closing down all of your social media and online accounts. You may decide that certain digital assets are to be left to specific beneficiaries and this can all be detailed in your Will.
In order for your digital executors to effectively comply with your wishes you will need to prepare a letter of instruction to include:
This information can be kept with your original Will in a sealed envelope and will only be handed to your digital Executors upon your death. You may need to review the information on a regular basis if you have closed accounts, opened new accounts or changed your user names and passwords.
Incapacity and the Digital World
During our lifetime our online presence is always increasing. So what happens to our social media and online accounts if we become permanently incapacitated?
What can you do?
How will your attorneys know your instructions?
All of your social media and online account providers will accept instructions received from your attorney once they receive a copy of your Registered Lasting Power of Attorney.
Death and the Digital World
Upon your death, your Digital Executors who are appointed under the terms of your Will are authorised to access your social media and online accounts. They will carry out your specific instructions to:
By making a Will and appointing Digital Executors and leaving all the relevant instructions, your social media and online accounts can be easily located and dealt with as you require.
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Meet the author
Charlotte Bandawe is our Head of Wills and Probate department, leading a team of two other colleagues. She is also our firm's Dementia Champion, enabling her to train other staff in how best to unders…
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