What Happens to Your Digital Property When You Kick the Bucket?
No one likes talking about dying (unless you’re into that kind of thing), but these days, the sensible thing to do is to at least prepare for it. We know it’s going to happen – it’s a matter of when and not if – and it’s pointless to ignore that. After all, we know that there so many Dumb Ways to Die:
I’m not being morbid here, who says your luck won’t take a turn for the worse?
While you and I may not have all the assets that others may have amassed over the years – real estate, trust funds, stocks, and all that stuff associated with “grown ups” – I’m sure that when it comes to digital property, we have our own hoard.
After all, a large part of our world – and activities – is digitized. Name it, and you’re probably using the digital version:
- Books and other apps
- Gaming accounts
- Banking and credit cards
- Accounts in online stores
- Social networks
All of these are an inherent part of practically everyone’s lives today, and one common thing about these digital properties: security and access.
You ought to know about the usual “suggestion” – choose a password that’s not hard to guess, don’t give your password away, change your password regularly, and so on.
But what if you suddenly disappear and/or die? Who will take care of your digital property then? Who will gain access to your Facebook account, for example? Who will take over your Game of War account, which may be worth thousands of dollars by now? While regular – physical – assets are easier to hand down, it’s not always the case for digital assets.
Back in 2012, the question was already being thrown around. Market Watch had an article about it, stating:
“Most digital content exists in a legal black hole. “The law is light years away from catching up with the types of assets we have in the 21st Century,” says Wheatley-Liss. In recent years, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Indiana, Oklahoma and Idaho passed laws to allow executors and relatives access to email and social networking accounts of those who’ve died, but the regulations don’t cover digital files purchased.”
You may not have given thought to drawing up a Will – only rich people do that yes? However, if you think about all your digital accounts, you might want to reconsider, and according to Saga Legal, which has drawn up a Guide to Preserving Your Digital Legacy, you should treat your digital legacy in much the same way as you treat the traditional aspects of a Will.
What you should do: Create an assets log, listing all of your online accounts, whether that be a film streaming subscription, Twitter account or an online marketplace account.
Not only might your loved ones want to close social sites down after you are gone, for personal reasons, but they will definitely want to make sure your sensitive information, including bank details, is kept private and safe.
More than creating that assets log, you should also provide the log-in details as well as instructions as to what you would like to happen to these accounts if you pass. Write down the name of the person you want to use your WoW account. Indicate who you want to have access to your email – if you’re comfortable with that.
Of course, you don’t want others to discover this information before it is necessary, hence the Will.
By doing this, you have your back covered when you pass away and still keep your information to yourself while you’re alive. You don’t want to be fraped, after all.
Remember, though, to keep your records up-to-date. There’s no point in having exerted effort in drawing up a Will when the information is outdated and useless.
So how do you get your Will drawn up? Find a reputable company to do that for you. You can choose to have your Will stored online or in the traditional way. Also, choose someone who will take responsibility – the executor.
If you don’t choose one, someone will still be held responsible for your assets and debts – digital or otherwise – when you are gone. Just make it easier for the people you leave behind, and make sure all your affairs are in order.