David Clarke interviews Trainee Solicitor, Catherine Guthrie at Turcan Connell, Princes Exchange, 1 Earl Grey Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9EE.

Catherine discusses what digital assets are and why you should have them in mind. Looking at having a Will done? Catherine looks at the practicalities of ensuring you plan for your digital assets within your Will.

Catherine provides an overview and insight into Digital Assets, recent changes to social media outlooks and how assets can be passed on in your legacy.

Read our related article, 'Digital Legacy After Death – Estate Planning in the Modern Age'

For more information or if you have any further questions, please get in touch by emailing enquiries@turcanconnell.com

 

David Clarke

Hello, I'm David Clarke and welcome to the Turcan Connell videocast on Digital Assets and how they can be passed on in your legacy. Obviously, this is a very fast-moving area, the whole area of technology. I'm here with one of Turcan Connell's experts on this issue, Catherine Guthrie. Catherine, can you tell me, what are digital assets and how can they be managed, basically?

Catherine Guthrie

Well, essentially, a digital asset is anything that can be stored in a binary format and comes with a right to use. So, that could be your email accounts, your social media accounts, photo-sharing accounts and the things that you'd store in these online accounts; so your word documents, your photos themselves, your videos. Some of these will obviously have a monetary value, like the balance of your PayPal account, some of them have sentimental value which you'll want somebody else to benefit from and some of them just contain a bit too much information to be left for ever and ever.

David Clarke

So that's things like Facebook and things like that? We've heard a lot of that in the news, about people – their Facebook account going on after they die.

Catherine Guthrie

Yes, and that's a very current issue. Facebook have recently announced that they're going to introduce a way to memorialise your Facebook account. So, rather than it simply being allowed to continue, it will be updated to show that you have died, and your friends and family will be able to continue to post on it, like an online memorial to you.

David Clarke

So, can digital assets be passed on to someone else?

Catherine Guthrie

Well it really depends on the internet service provider involved. Most people, when they sign up to an online account, they'll tick the box to say they've read the terms and conditions. These terms and conditions usually do contain something about what will happen to that account when you die. So, in most cases, it's a case of going back to those terms and conditions and seeing what they say. For example, in your iTunes and Kindle account, you don't own that content, you're effectively only leasing it so you can't pass that on to somebody else; while you could pass on the physical thing, you can't pass on the content. Other things, like gaming credits, for example, can usually be passed on fairly freely, so it does just depend what the asset is.

David Clarke

So, how should digital assets be dealt with when someone dies?

Catherine Guthrie

Well, the first thing you really need to do is keep a clear record of what accounts you have and the access details – the username and password. You can do this online through an online safety deposit box or you can simply do it in a paper format so long as you keep it up-to-date. And then, as with any succession planning, you need to decide who's going to benefit. And the simplest way to make your wishes known is simply to put a digital asset clause into your will. This could allow your executors the discretion as to who should benefit or it could be a lot more prescriptive and detail very specifically who should get what. The other thing you probably do want to consider is whether to appoint a separate digital executor or whether you just want to make sure that one of your appointed executors is digitally literate so that they will be able to carry out your instructions.

David Clarke

Thanks very much, Catherine. So, for more information on digital assets, or wills and legacies in general, go to turcanconnell.com.