Scots urged to deal with digital afterlife

People making a will are being urged to include all of their digital assets – just as they would a house or investments – to avoid a minefield of potential financial and privacy problems.

Euan Fleming, Partner and Head of Private Client at Gilson Gray, says that digital assets like social media profiles, blogs, and even online banking, are overlooked by the vast majority people when it comes to wills.

Euan said: “99% of people who come to us don’t think to include digital assets in their wills, which can create huge confusion and issues down the line.

“Digital assets have no real definition, they can be anything with a monetary value, like bitcoin and online currency, as well as a digital personality, which involves your presence on social media and online profiles. They’re incredibly valuable, especially as we move more online and expand our online presence.

“Things like social media accounts, iTunes and Spotify, PayPal, Bitcoin, online shopping and online banking – these are all covered under digital assets.

“When you don’t include them, it can be very difficult to gain access to a loved one’s social media. Many social media companies won’t give out login details unless they have proof that that person is a power of attorney or has been given access.

“Because we live so much of our lives online, and social media can be a money-earner for many people, it’s created a need for digital assets to be given as much thought as traditional assets.

“We’ve introduced them in recent years as we can see the growing value of your digital personality and any assets you might hold in digital currency, like bitcoin.”

The advice previously was to keep passwords and access to online sites in a secure place; however, this has developed into a digital presence. Gilson Gray introduced digital asset in will-making five years ago, but still see the majority of people overlook them when they come to discuss their wills.

David Murdie, Solicitor at Gilson Gray, said: “We’d recommend everyone thinks seriously about all of their digital assets and keeps a list of online accounts and passwords.

“The main message here is that it’s crucial to consider your online presence, what you’d like to happen after your death, and ensure that the important people in your life know how to access and deal with all of your online accounts.

“We offer a lot of our wills work online – the majority of it can be done digitally and we look over and ensure our clients have covered every eventuality.”

 

Newsletter 
Sign up to our News & Insights!