What happens to my digital assets when I die?

What happens to my digital assets when I die? 10 June 2022
Protecting your digital assets after you die

When making a Will, most people want to ensure that big assets, like a house and money in the bank, will make their way to the right beneficiary. This is certainly important, however many people forget to consider equally important digital assets and what might happen to those after they pass away.

It is extremely important to ensure that you have made arrangements for your digital assets upon your death, such as social media accounts, email addresses and even photographs on your phone. Failure to do so could have serious consequences, such as identity theft, which could lead to debts being incurred, or the loss of important sentimental items.

What digital assets might I own?

Digital assets are comprised of anything you may have created, uploaded or otherwise set up online or on some form of digital device. They may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Personal assets – email accounts, text messages, social media accounts 
  • Financial assets – online bank accounts, PayPal, cryptocurrency, Apple Pay wallets 
  • Business assets – Ebay, Spotify, customer orders 
  • Subscription services – Netflix, Spotify, Disney+  
  • Pictures and documents storage – Google Drive, Apple iCloud 
  • Intellectual property rights – domain names, images, writing files on your computer 
  • Loyalty program benefits 
  • Sports gambling accounts 
  • Online gaming accounts 

How can I protect my digital assets after my death?

There is no current legislation in Australia dealing with who may access or control your digital assets after your death. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as providing someone your password. Many big technology companies will still deny your relatives (or whoever you gave your passwords to) access to make decisions about your accounts. Other sites specifically prohibit someone else to interfere with your data after your death, even if you “authorised” them to do so by giving them your password.

The best way you can protect your digital assets after death is to make a Will specifically nominating who should have the power to access, control and deal with your digital assets after you die. We also highly recommend that you make a list of the digital assets you own with your relevant usernames and passwords, to be stored alongside your Will or in another secure place. You can also make recommendations as to what should happen with your digital assets, such as whether an ‘in memoriam’ account should remain open for a certain period of time, or whether all accounts should be deleted immediately.

If you or someone you know would like some assistance with digital Estate Planning or with preparing a Will, Contact Us on (02) 4943 3988 to speak with one of our friendly estate planning lawyers. We have years of experience helping people with their estate needs throughout the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region.

This blog was written by Associate,
 Jessica Benson
Jessica practises in the areas of Family Law, Wills & Estate Planning,
Deceased Estates and Will disputes

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