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Digital assets when someone dies or is incapacitated

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Have you ever considered what will happen to your email, social media accounts, digital photographs, or cryptocurrency, if you were to die or become incapacitated?

Following a survey of members globally, The Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP) released a report examining the risks and challenges posed by digital assets to estate planning and administration – Digital Assets: A Call to Action

If you have digital assets that you would like to pass onto your loved ones, then as part of your estate planning, set aside some time to contact each service provider to find out about their procedures following death or incapacity and document this to help your executors and beneficiaries.  To document post death procedures for your digital assets, you may like to download STEP’s helpful inventory which can be found at files (step.org).

I personally have a lot of cherished videos and digital photographs and would be mortified if these were lost.  These are saved to a storage box on my home network and on two hard drives as a backup; one of which I keep at home and the other at a relative’s house. I am sure, however, that there are many of us who have digital images saved somewhere in “The Cloud” through online service providers.  My very basic understanding of “The Cloud” is that there are a whole bunch of servers located in data centres all over the world and by using “The Cloud”, service providers do not have to manage physical servers themselves.  For example, Gmail stores emails and attachments in the Google Drive Cloud.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of internet and online services which is brilliant, but we all know how impossible it can be when our log in does not work! For best practices to evolve, as they have done in banks and life insurance companies, it is going to take some time. Cloud services will need time to find and implement effective solutions for accessing digital assets and for legal systems to be updated and modernised across the world.

At Mercer & Hole, we pride ourselves on supporting STEP’s digital asset campaign. We are committed to helping our clients plan for their estates both pre and post death and will often act as a professional executor alongside a close family member.  If we can be of assistance to you, please contact us.

 

 

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