In an increasingly-digital world, online property can have real value. Sometimes, this is sentimental value, like old family photographs or emails shared with a spouse over your life.  In some cases, however, you may have online assets that are worth significant amounts of money. These high-value digital assets can include things like a valuable domain name, a thriving web store, or even bitcoins.

When you engage in estate planning, it is important that you include a plan for all of these online assets. Determining how to handle digital assets in your will can be complicated, but Owen Hodge Lawyers can provide you with the assistance you need to leave careful instructions for the management and distribution of digital assets.

Digital Assets and Your Will

 

To make provisions for the handling of your online assets after your death, there are a few key steps you should consider taking:

  • Make a comprehensive list of all of the digital assets you own and wish to address. This can include things like access to online financial accounts; login information for social media accounts and forums you may frequent; domain names you own; online businesses; and intellectual properties like copyrights, patents, and trademarks.
  • Determine who will inherit or who will be responsible for your digital assets. Be sure to address each asset separately. Perhaps you want to leave your domain name or web store to a business partner, while making sure your children or spouse have access to online financial accounts and are able to get into your social media sites. It is up to you to decide what should happen to each specific online asset and who is the best person in your life to handle that particular online item.
  • Provide written instructions for each item on your list. If you want forum or Facebook friends to be notified of your death, provide details on who should let them know and how this should be done after you have passed away. If a domain name is valuable or if a copyright or trademark is worth a significant amount of money, let your heirs know this so they will understand the value of the items being inherited.  If you are not certain of how much a digital asset is worth, consider having a qualified appraiser help you determine how valuable it is.  Even a Pinterest or social media account can be worth a significant amount of money if you have lots of followers and advertisers interested, so do not discount the very real worth of your online assets.
  • Establish a plan for how to store information on your digital assets. You can use online storage services to keep all of your passwords and login information in one place, or you can keep a physical or digital list of all of these details. Be sure to provide information on where this master list is.  You may wish to keep all of your login information on a thumb drive or in a paper file stored in a safe deposit box, for example.  When you make changes to passwords or logins, update your master list so those who inherit don’t find themselves locked out. There are an estimated 30 million Facebook profiles belonging to people who have passed away, and The Daily Mail reported in the past on a family battling for access to their dead son’s Facebook page.
  • Make sure your instructions have legal power. If you simply make a list of where your digital assets are and how to access them, this is not going to be sufficient to ensure the online accounts and properties go to the people who you want to have them. In order to make sure your instructions are followed and the online property transfers to appropriate parties, you should include all of the details on what happens to your digital assets in a last will and testament.

Owen Hodge Lawyers can help you to prepare a will that is legally valid, which addresses the disposition of your online assets. Give us a call at 1800 770 780 or contact us via ohl@owenhodge.com.au for comprehensive assistance with estate planning so you can be prepared to have control over how all of your property is handled after your death.