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1 April 2015

Protecting (and recovering) digital assets: online banking to bitcoins

We explain the importance of making provision for the main digital assets that you hold, as well as the challenges faced by executors trying to recover them.

In February, Facebook US changed the way it deals with the passing of a user. It’s now possible for a user to nominate a legacy contact who can choose whether to close or memorialise an account when the user dies. It’s likely that Facebook UK will follow suit.

But what about other digital assets when someone dies? These are the questions you may be asking:

  • What happens when I die or lose capacity?
  • Can I pass digital assets on in my will?
  • Do attorneys and executors have the right to deal with these assets in the event of my losing capacity or dying?
  • How will my lawyer and executors access my digital assets, or even know that they exist?

Of course, there are different considerations for the families of a deceased person who may want access to a loved one’s email account and photograph collection, and an attorney or an executor attempting to manage and administer the estate of a person’s finances if they lose capacity or deceased.

Digital assets include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Online payment accounts
  • Virtual currency
  • Reward cards
  • Digital media accounts
  • Cloud storage
  • Online gaming

The future 

Dealing with digital assets under a power of attorney or will can present challenges, and is likely to be an area of the law that attracts a lot of media attention.

While many digital assets are likely to have more of an emotional or sentimental, rather than financial, value, it’s an area of law that will raise new challenges for legal advisers of the digital generation.

Click here to view the article in full published by The Gazette.
For more information on how the Steeles wills, trusts and tax team can support you and your family, please email probate@steeleslaw.co.uk or call 01603 598000 and a member of the team will call you back.

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