“I am checking out – Feeling Sad :-( ” Your affairs in the digital age

Digital Estate MP
Approximately half the UK population have a Facebook Profile.
 
More than half the UK population use internet banking.
 
Are you one of the millions of people who interact with their bank or building society entirely online, via email or by telephone? Do you update your Facebook status or Tweet your whereabouts on a daily basis?
 
If the answered “yes” to the questions above then you should consider the effects of holding such assets on the administration of your estate when you die.
 
With the plethora of email accounts, passwords, usernames, security codes, secret words and so on it may seem almost impossible to access your assets and close accounts, remove social profiles and ensure that the administration of the estate is completed. The policies to gain access among firms and companies vary significantly and some may require just a death certificate whereas some may require a Court Order.
 
In order to make the process simpler for your Executors, keep a (secure) log of any information that may assist your Executors when the time comes. This may include a list of “online assets” a list of passwords, usernames and active email accounts. The list should be kept somewhere secure like a safe, bank deposit box or with us if we draft your Will. As with other estate planning documents, at least one other person should know the whereabouts of the list, perhaps a spouse or civil partner or other close relative.
 
One piece of advice we would offer is to read the User Agreements that you must agree to before you sign up to these services and ensure that you are compliant with the same before sharing or allowing another member of the family access to the account.
 
One recent “step in the right direction” in relation to online affairs came from Google in April this year with the addition of the “Inactive Account Manager” tab which enables you to make provisions for what will happen to your account if it remains inactive for a specified period of time. While the service does not specify that it is to be used in the event of your demise, this is clearly what the idea is getting at.
 
For more information on this and any other aspects of putting your affairs in order before you die please contact the writer, Matthew Parr on 0121 710 5944.