Nikita Noël, Solicitor at Latimer Hinks

Latimer Hinks Solicitors in Darlington is urging people to remember to include digital assets when planning for their estates, after a study shows 93% have not.

Following research released by the Law Society which showed that only 7% of people fully understood what will happen to digital assets such as passwords, social media accounts and photos after they have died, Latimer Hinks has warned that failing to do so could prevent bereaved families from accessing essential digital assets.

Nikita Noël, Solicitor at Latimer Hinks, said: “In the digital age, the internet serves as virtual filing cabinets, photo albums and diaries. Although our own mortality is not something many of us wish to contemplate on a day-to-day basis, it is vital that when making our wills and planning our estates, the future of our digital assets is considered.

Aside from a web of personal memories which can be stored on the internet, there is also the ability to store financial assets electronically, through forums such as PayPal and Bitcoin which could, perhaps, have an enormous effect on the value of an individual’s estate, the Inheritance Tax that may need to be paid and, ultimately, the legacies due to beneficiaries.

“If you had a safe in your house containing valuables and important information, you would ensure that the code to unlock it was included in your arrangements. Nowadays we use various web-based platforms as virtual treasure troves, storing not only vital information about our finances but personal data too, so making allowances for that is equally as important.”

The research released by the Law Society showed that of the 1,000 people surveyed:

  • 93% of those with a will had not considered including digital assets in it.
  • 25% knew what would happen to their digital assets after they die.
  • 7% fully understood what would happen to digital assets after death.
  • 29% had a current up to date will.

Nikita continued: “In addition to the loss of personal effects, failing to account for digital assets could have repercussions for probate – leaving family members unable to access information needed for online banking, share dealing and other financial holdings.

“The death of a loved one is always difficult but giving proper consideration to digital assets will at least make this particular aspect of estate management easier.”