What are digital assets, and can you inherit them?

Although there is no legal definition for digital assets, they generally refer to personal property that has value and is created and stored digitally, either online or on physical devices such as laptops, mobile phones, or tablets. 

Just like physical assets, you can only inherit digital assets that are transferable. Transferable digital assets are those that are owned and not licensed. This means that not all digital assets are transferable and therefore not all can be inherited. 

What are some examples of digital assets that can be transferred?

Examples of digital assets are:

While some digital assets only have sentimental value, others, like cryptocurrency, websites, domains, or online investment wallets, could have a significant monetary value.

As mentioned, not all types of digital assets can be inherited. Digital assets that are non-transferrable are not owned outright by the deceased, although they could be licensed for personal use, they cannot be inherited. 

Examples of digital assets that cannot be inherited are:
How do I leave a digital asset in a Will?

The first thing to do is to inventory all your digital assets in a letter or accompanying document and not in the Will itself. Tracing a person's digital assets may be difficult without an inventory, so it is a good idea to keep updating the list throughout your life. The inventory must contain details of the following:

Make a note of all the digital assets that are transferable to ascertain if you just have a licence or whether you own the asset outright. This may involve taking legal advice to see which assets will be transferable upon death or researching the individual assets by taking a closer look at the terms and conditions. For example, according to Apple's terms and conditions, all user accounts are non-transferable upon the user's death.

Explain where the assets are stored so that when the executor is going through your Will, they are easily able to find the assets to distribute to the beneficiaries. For example, are they stored in cloud services such as google cloud, iCloud, or Microsoft Azure, or on some physical device? It is safe to back your data up for assets stored in the cloud to prevent loss.

It is important to give clear instructions as to how to access your digital assets. It is wise not to include sensitive information such as passwords in the Will. Therefore, the best way to ensure that your executor has access to your digital assets and accounts after your death is to leave detailed log-in credentials, passwords, and instructions in a separate letter.

Be specific about what should happen to all transferable and non-transferable digital assets, including those that hold sentimental value such as photographs, personal emails, or family videos. 

How Can GloverPriest Help?

At GloverPriest, we provide friendly and transparent legal advice. If you would like further advice on your Will, please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our expert lawyers today. Complete our enquiry form. 

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