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What Happens To Our Digital Assets & Online Accounts When We Die?

View profile for Nicola Dalzell
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In today’s digital world how many of us have digital assets and online accounts?  We are encouraged to manage our accounts online and it is often cost effective for us to do so as many service providers charge extra for paper billing.

You may wonder what happens to our digital assets and online accounts when we die. 

Your executor is responsible for dealing with your estate, which includes your digital assets but how will he deal with digital assets and online accounts (including your social media accounts) if he is unaware of their existence or cannot access them?

You can help! 

It will be helpful and makes your executor’s job less onerous if you keep a digital assets log.  It should include all your logins and passwords.  Keep a hardcopy of your log, as you will be defeating the object if you store it electronically.  A review of your log should take place regularly so that it is up to date.  Ideally, review it every six months but, at the very least, on an annual basis.    


It is also helpful to place a copy of your log with your original Will (we offer Will storage free of charge).  After your death your executors will have details of all your online accounts, digital assets and social media sites together with any instructions from you as to how you wish them to be dealt with, which will make their job somewhat easier.


There are other items as well as bank and email accounts which are stored electronically, for instance, photographs, videos and emails.  You may wish to include your login and password details for these too. 


When creating online accounts take a few minutes to consider the specific terms relating to how the account will be dealt with after your death and take any steps you consider necessary for someone to deal with these accounts.  If possible nominate someone, such as your executor or a person with your permission, to access your accounts following your death.  Service providers may provide such a facility.


Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or professional networking sites such as LinkedIn also need to be dealt with following your death. 

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or professional networking sites such as LinkedIn also need to be dealt with following your death.  Leaving written instructions for your executors explaining what you would like to happen with these accounts is helpful.  You may wish them to post a particular message on the site for your followers and friends, or you may wish the accounts to be closed immediately.

Many service providers such as Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, iTunes include provisions relating to the death of an account holder in their terms of business. For instance iTunes includes a provision for the licence to terminate on the account holder’s death and therefore, account holders are prohibited from passing on the account and it will be necessary for your executors to arrange closure of the account.

If you hold money in a PayPal account then it is necessary for your executors to close this account.  They will need to send a death certificate to PayPal who will arrange to close the account and pay any monies to your estate.  Instagram, Google, iCloud, and Facebook all have their own terms and you may wish to familiarise yourself with their terms and conditions.

Without details of your online accounts, digital assets, login and password information your executors may find it difficult to deal with all your digital accounts.  So I suggest spending a little time putting together a digital assets log and keeping a hardcopy somewhere.

Since writing this article we now have a free download available to help you think about what accounts and passwords you have and how to store them together and make them accessible to your nominees in the event of your death .....

Download our Digital Assets Keepsafe today!