Why you should use legacy tools for your digital assets
Posted on 27th July 2022
We are all being urged to plan what will happen to our ‘digital memories’ by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). These might include irreplaceable photos, videos, social media profiles and email accounts. If you don’t make arrangements before your death these could all be lost.
According to the results of a YouGov online poll of over 2,000 UK adults released in June 2022, almost two thirds said that what happens to their sentimental digital possessions after they have gone is important to them although only one third said they had any monetary value, like cryptocurrency.
However, well over half of those who responded said they haven’t made any plans for passing on their digital assets when they die and only about one in 10 knew that they could. Even amongst those who were aware they should make arrangements hardly anyone had used digital legacy tools available from providers like Google and Apple.
Previous research by STEP with estate planners had highlighted that grieving families were often distressed when they couldn’t access a loved one’s digital assets.
STEP’s Digital Memories campaign gives easy-to-follow advice to help people plan what will happen to their digital assets when they can no longer access them. These simple steps could help to save heartache for your loved ones in the future.
STEP is calling for all service providers to have legacy tools and to encourage people to use them. Terms and conditions should include a clause that allows access for a nominated person which should be supported by legislation.
Using legacy tools
It can take just a few minutes to log in to your digital accounts and update the legacy settings to protect your digital memories. However, some providers’ terms and conditions say accounts are private and can’t be shared. Only some have put tools in place to allow your loved ones to access your accounts should you lack capacity to access them yourself, or after your death.
For example, Facebook allows you to make arrangements for your account to be permanently deleted when you die or you can memorialise your account and appoint a legacy contact, although they must also have an account. A separate page can then be set up as a new tribute section, where friends and family can share posts.
Google allows you to decide when your account should be considered inactive and if it should then be deleted. You can also choose to let up to 10 people know that your account is inactive and give them access to some or all of your data.
You can find out more about these tools and what other providers will allow on the STEP website.
Please get in touch if you would like help or advice about how to include what should happen to your digital assets in your Will.
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