Digital assets are often overlooked when making a Will, unless someone prompts you to think about them. Some digital assets have a monetary value. Others don’t, but may have sentimental value – family photos for example.
Is a software licence an asset?
Some digital media are not classed as assets at all – some are simply a licence to use software (such as a gaming account, social media account or a banking app). Even if the licence cannot be transferred, it is sensible to make sure your family know what you have and what to do with it.
A digital asset is not the same as the laptop, smartphone or tablet that you use to access it. You could leave your iMac to your son, but all your digital photos stored on the desktop to someone else.
Does my Will cover digital assets?
For Wills signed and witnessed on or after 1 October 2014, the definition of personal chattels includes all tangible movable property owned by the person making a Will except business assets, investments and money. Digital assets are not tangible. So, it’s sensible to deal with them separately or extend the definition of personal chattels to include them.
Which digital assets have a value?
Some digital assets have a value themselves that is separate from any computer or device that can be used to access them:
- Websites, blogs or other online content created by you
- Domain names (but not limited company domain names as these are owned by the business)
- High quality photographs and videos that could be sold for money
- Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin
- Online books written by you
- Digitally created artwork
- Online stories or poetry you’ve authored
If you make a gift of your digital assets, your executors must make sure your wishes are followed. If you don’t specify who you want to receive your digital assets they will fall into what is called your residuary estate. This includes everything that remains after the specific and money gifts have been paid out and your debts are repaid, and is often left to a group of people in equal shares. This may not be what you intend.
If you have valuable digital assets and do not make a gift of them in your Will, your executors may not know they exist. They could be lost forever.
It’s important to make a list of your digital assets and keep it up to date. Once I’ve Gone provide a straightforward service that allows you to provide legacy information to your executors, without compromising on security. Our website has more details and we are happy to give you any advice you might need.
What assets don’t have any value, even though they feel valuable?
- Online gaming accounts with virtual currency
- Social media accounts with a large following (‘influencer’ accounts)
Check the terms of each account carefully. If the account can be passed on then decide who you want to receive it; if not, leave your executors access details and instructions.
Security and back ups
For digital assets that have monetary or sentimental value, ensure these are backed up safely – ideally to cloud storage and leave instructions about how these can be accessed. Backing up is so important. Remember that storage formats may change over time so it’s important to transfer data assets well before your chosen storage format becomes obsolete and inaccessible.