Last Updated on 21.9.17 by Michael Smoult
Few members of the older generation – the so-called silver surfers- have given any thought who should bequest their `digital` legacy to.
As a consequence family members and love ones could fight over who becomes keeper of the pictures, blogs, icloud, websites and music their loved one has left posted on sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
It’s a potentially combustible state of affairs since you could have a situation where, say, an ex-wife doesn’t want the current wife to have digital custody of pictures of her children.
The problem is now acute after it was revealed recently that the number of over 75’s using social media has nearly doubled in the last year, Some 48 per cent of online baby boomers aged 65 to 74 now have a social media profile, as do 41 per cent of over-75’s, up from 19 per cent a year ago.
Without planning, all these will be left in a void if you pass away or develop a disease, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, which renders you incapable of looking after such accounts. That`s when the arguments could start.
Some sites, such as Facebook, do have a legacy setting, which enables users to choose someone to look after their account if it’s memorialised, but not many people seem to be aware of this.
The Law Society recommends making and updating a ‘Personal Assets Log’, which has a list of all your digital accounts so that your executor can arrange to close your accounts and your family have permission to access digital media they may want to keep, such as photos and videos.
You don’t have to leave passwords and pins – it would be an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 for anyone to access your account without your permission. Instead, your executors will be able to contact the relevant website or service provide to gain access.
There are also digital estate planning services’ which allow you to plan ahead for digital information transfer, create time capsules, prepare messages for future delivery, and automate backups.
Money, property or sentimental items have historically proved to be the flash-points in terms of contents of a will. But as more and more older people use social media, this has brought with it tremendous scope for argument.
One way around matters, he says, is to set out in a letter of wishes, outlining explicitly whom you wish to bequeath the digital legacy to. Make sure you list your social media accounts with the login details and passwords on a piece of paper and leave copies with your executor and solicitor
Having access to photos and videos are likely to be incredibly important for family and close friends when a person dies. Making provision for a digital legacy could save a lot of heartache in the future.
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