Billions of people are using social media and other digital assets every day. For many, digital assets contain very private and confidential information. As a result, it is important to consider what happens to these digital assets when you die.
What are digital assets?
Believe it or not, your email and social media accounts are considered assets, known as ‘digital assets’. Like any other asset you own, your digital assets are something which you should seriously consider when making your Will. Digital assets include, but are not limited to, the following online mediums:
- Social media accounts;
- Email accounts;
- Word documents;
- Photography; and
How can I address my digital assets in my Will?
Digital assets are an important part of estate planning. Considering what happens to your digital assets after your lifetime saves your loved ones from dealing with these issues in times of grief. You are able to clearly stipulate what happens to these assets through carefully worded clauses in your Will. For example, you might wish to prepare a separate document containing your computer, social media and email login details, along with your instructions on how you would like these accounts to be managed. Particular clauses in your Will can make reference to this document, which is then left alongside your Will.
Social media policies on accounts
Various social media platforms have different rules and processes as to what happens to users’ accounts after they die. When including your digital assets in your Will, your executor or the beneficiary of these assets should familiarise themselves with the different deceased users’ policies for managing social media accounts.
Facebook users can appoint a legacy contact to look after your memorialized account when you pass away. You may refer to your legacy contact in your Will, to allow them to manage your account, subject to your wishes.
Immediate family members of deceased Instagram accounts can report the account to Instagram for memorialisation. Memorialized Instagram accounts are not able to be logged into or changed.
Gmail will carefully review any requests about a deceased user’s account with family members or appointed representatives. Gmail is not able to provide login details or passwords for deceased users. For this reason, it is important that your instructions are clear about what happens with any information connected to your Gmail account.
In the present day and age, we are storing a significant amount of data and personal information online. Digital assets are well worth protecting and reflecting through estate planning. Like any other asset, you should think carefully about reviewing how your digital assets are dealt with in your Will.
Please contact Charlie Robinson of our office (03 9435 9044) if you have any questions concerning this.
This is general information only. Please contact us for expert legal advice that takes your unique personal situation into account prior to making any decisions based on this article.