What happens to your digital footprint when you die?

by Lee McClellan (Basildon), Helen Jago (Basildon) and Tim Steele (SWF).

Making a will remains the best way to ensure your final wishes are carried out, but in an age where more and more people are conducting their financial and personal business online, this could pose a problem for executors when an individual dies. This is particularly pertinent, given that nearly a third of Britons would consider including their web-based possessions as part of their estate – which is hardly surprising when you consider the £2.3 billion of such assets they currently own. However, with online security firmly at the top of many companies’ priorities, relatives and executors may find it difficult, even impossible, to access web-based assets without the required usernames and passwords.

Consequently, individuals may consider recording such details in their wills to ensure that executors are able to gain easy access to web-based assets at what will already be a very delicate time. Especially as there is also a good chance that your relatives may not even be aware of the existence of some of your online accounts.

As ever, where there are new ways of accumulating assets, fraudsters are quick to follow. In fact, crooks are already targeting assets such as the online bank accounts included in the estates of individuals who have died.

And therein lies the problem with including sensitive data, such as passwords and PIN numbers, in a document like a will. As wills are made public, they can be read by anyone, including criminals, who can then exploit the not-so-confidential information.

Therefore, it would seem that the most sensible course of action is for people to leave any information regarding their digital footprint in a sealed envelope, which should be stored securely with their will.

The Wills, Probate and Trusts Department at Palmers Solicitors is headed by a member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) and staffed by sympathetic and experienced personnel, who can advise on all aspects of administering an estate.

At Palmers Solicitors, our Wills, Probate and Trusts Department is headed by a member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) and staffed by sympathetic and experienced personnel, who can advise on all aspects of administering an estate.

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