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Wills and Probate – The Digital World and You

11:33, 28/5/2019

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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:

  • A list of your online social media accounts
  • Usernames
  • Passwords
  • Any other details required when logging in

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?

  • No-one has any access to your accounts

What can you do?

  • Prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney providing specific instructions to your attorneys to deal with your social media and online accounts

How will your attorneys know your instructions?

  • You can prepare a letter of instruction detailing all of your social media and online accounts together with your user names and passwords and providing full details of your wishes for each of your accounts.

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:

  • Memorialise an account
  • Delete an account
  • Deactivate an account
  • Save all the data and hand it over to a specific beneficiary

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.


Get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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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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