Apart from the usual assets that you leave behind after your death, there exists a whole other range of assets of a digital nature that you may not have considered or made provision for after your death. If left unchecked, it could result in devastating consequences.
Traditionally, asset details could be easily located
Typically upon death, a person’s estate will consist of various monetary assets, including bank accounts, immovable property, motor vehicles and insurance policies, etc. Ideally, all the important details of these accounts, assets and policies would be contained in a folder and stored in a safe place, with an executor or family member being able to easily locate it in order to wind up the estate.
Today, digital assets abound with monetary and sentimental value
Times have changed however, and many people choose to store this valuable information in digital format. Digital assets include, but are not limited to, email accounts, social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), blog posts, photo or music sharing accounts and digital purchases through for example eBay or Takealot.com.
This means that it may be difficult for those in charge of winding up the estate to locate the digital assets and close them or distribute them to the beneficiaries. In a worst case scenario, these assets may hold monetary value and may never be located and lost forever. Also, while digital music libraries and photo albums, for example, may not translate to a rand amount, for some they certainly hold sentimental value and their loss could be devastating.
Your Digital Estate Plan
In order to prevent this from happening, a Digital Estate Plan can be created through which all digital accounts and information can be accessed and closed upon your death.
Our Trusts and Estates team can assist you in creating such a plan and putting into effect legal documents such Last Will and Testament, a Codicil or Letter of Wishes which will ensure that your intentions in this regard are carried out.
Questions to consider for your digital assets
Important questions to ask yourself when planning your Digital Estate Plan include the following:
Who is to manage and have control over your digital estate? (Make sure that this ‘digital executor’ is technologically savvy and has the right skills in this regard.)
How will your passwords be accessed after your death?
What is to happen to the digital estate? (For instance, whether digital accounts should be closed or digital devices cleared of their contents and whether printouts of accounts should be given to particular people?)
Who is to receive the digital estate, and in what form?
Consult an expert
In order to prevent your digital information from going missing forever, it is important to be proactive and ensure that it devolves according to your digital estate plan. It is advisable to get assistance from an experienced attorney to assist you in taking care of your digital and physical assets. Our specialised Trusts and Estates team offer comprehensive advice on Digital Estate Plans, Wills and other matters pertaining to Estate Planning.