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Resources Digital Legacy – is this the most valuable part of your Estate?

  • Posted by Insight by Emily O’Brien
  • Published Current as at 8 September 2020
  • Category Insights

Social media accounts for 33% of the total time we spend online, averaging 2 hours and 24 minutes per day across multiple social networks and messaging apps.

Given the amount of time we spend using these services and that they are a primary source of communication, it is to be expected that we create and store a huge amount of content – articles, photos, music, and more – all of which are our digital assets.  Like all of our assets, we need to plan for what happens to them on our death.

Digital assets can take many forms including:

  • Social media accounts, personal email accounts, messaging services, and photo-sharing sites.
  • Online bank accounts, eBay, PayPal, BPAY, and online sports betting accounts.
  • Files stored on a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, hard drive, or in the cloud.
  • Designs, artistic or literary works, and other forms of intellectual property that exist electronically.

The fact is, that the ownership of much of our digital data is scattered among numerous organisations and businesses. While the law is clear regarding the protection of our physical assets, it is still in many cases playing catch up in relation to our digital assets. In some cases, the default position is that the companies involved end up controlling what happens with those assets, regardless of our wishes.

You can help by putting together an inventory of your digital assets and what you would like to happen to them.

  • Let your Executors know the location and potential value
  • Provide access to username and passwords
  • Provide guidance for what material is to be kept and what is to be destroyed.

Finally, take the time to check the terms and conditions of various providers and what happens if you die.

Some require you to nominate a new administrator now, so take advantage of the opportunities.

In the end, be proactive. Create and update the inventory and be on the lookout when you sign up with new social networks to see what options are available to you.