The internet has grown significantly over the past two decades and unsurprisingly legislation has struggled to keep pace with all the challenges this creates. In the pre-internet age, it was easy for people to leave their possessions to their nearest and dearest but now, leaving digital assets has become far more complicated.
Back in 2012 stories circulated concerning Bruce Willis who was preparing to sue Apple over the right to leave his iTunes collection to his daughters. Whilst the reports were false, it does highlight the fact that buying electronic media does not give you the same rights as buying tangible assets – most digital providers are only selling you a lifetime licence to use those files.
One way around the problem is simply to give those close to you the log-ins and passwords to your digital files. The terms and conditions set out by some digital companies allow a film library or play list to be accessed by several separate devices through the same password. It is also possible to list those passwords in your Will with instructions on to whom to give them but of course if you change your password it is then necessary to amend your Will and incur the relevant cost in bringing that amendment into force. There are also companies who will store passwords in a ‘Legacy Locker’ for a nominated ‘digital heir’ should the worst happen.
Facebook have responded to the confusion by launching a service that ‘memorialises’ the account of a deceased person so, if a family member alerts the company to someone’s passing, the account will be locked and the strap-line ‘Remembering’ will be added to the person’s profile. Also, if you nominate a ‘Legacy Contact’ with Facebook that person will have access to your account and be able to download all your pictures and posts should you die.
For more information on managing your digital assets please contact us on +44 (0)1903 231545. We keep up to date with all legislative changes relating to UK Will writing and can advise on the latest developments around digital and social media succession.