What Happens to Your Digital Assets When You Die?

You may have heard of using a Will to protect your physical assets when you pass away, but what about your digital assets?

There is currently no law in Australia that governs what happens to your digital assets when you die, instead these assets form part of your estate and their control is reliant on the terms of service of the organisations in which they are provided by.

What is a digital asset?

Digital assets include items that exist in a digital form such as emails, photos and social media accounts, as well as any assets that facilitate digital access, including computers, tablets, and smartphones. Digital wealth such as cryptocurrency or online banking accounts are also considered digital assets and form part of your estate. Any digital assets, such as your digital wealth, that you have ownership of and can be transferred can be gifted in your Will.

What about my digital accounts?

Due to the terms of service of many organisations that provide digital assets, you may not actually be entitled to ownership of your digital accounts, such as in the case of Instagram and Facebook accounts, instead you are granted with a non-transferrable license of use, which expires upon your death. This means that these accounts cannot be gifted under your Will as they are non-transferrable. However, the photos or recordings that you store/transmit via these digital accounts may be considered digital assets depending on their content.

Understanding which digital assets you have ownership of, and which are non-transferable may assist your friends and family with accessing them on your death.

How can I protect my digital assets?

Ensuring your Will has a specific clause relating to digital assets can make the process of accessing and dealing with your digital assets much easier for your loved ones. This clause can contain information regarding which digital assets you hold as well as information on how to access the relevant accounts and passwords. You may also wish to create an inventory style list of your digital assets and their relevant information such as usernames, passwords, and security questions that can be stored alongside your Will in safe custody.

Identifying the digital assets you possess also allows you to instruct your Executor on how you would like them to be dealt with upon your death. If you wish for all your digital assets to be deleted, your Executor will be able to do so with the access provided. Including written instructions for each item on your list will allow for the clear handing of your digital assets after death.

How can we assist?

Your posthumous digital presence can be protected by ensuring you have a valid Will that includes instructions on what to do with your digital assets when you die. Our Estate Planning team can assist you in drafting a Will that reflects your wishes and safeguards your digital assets.

If you would like further information or specific advice in relation to protecting your digital assets, please do not hesitate to contact Southern Waters Legal on (02) 9523 5535.