Northwood Banks & Co Limited

Sharing digital assets with the family

How Are Digital Assets Handled When You Pass Away?

We have a digital footprint that reaches far and wide but what happens to this when we pass away?

Our lives have become highly dependent on the digital world and we now have accounts for almost everything, including social media, energy bills, banking and even online meeting platforms. Since the pandemic, we have changed in ways we never imagined and that includes our reliance on digital technology.


What  happens to our digital footprint when we pass away?

Firstly, what is a digital asset? This is information that is in digital form as opposed to having an asset that is physical such as a house or a savings account. These assets will be accessed via an online account using a username and password but whatever these assets might be, what happens to them when you pass on?


The majority of assets will align with the wishes of your Will including the likes of online bank accounts. However, sentimental assets, for examples photographs, become a challenge because accessing them can prove difficult as well as passing them to your executors. There is no clearcut way in which this can be achieved because account providers do not often consider your executors to have legal authority to access your accounts. What this means, is that it is important to think about how your accounts can be accessed after you pass away.


Dealing with Apple iCloud After Death

As an example, looking at Apple and the iCloud, these allow you to add a legacy contact, someone who you trust who can access your data after you die. There is no need to provide a Grant of Probate and Apple will provide a unique access key that needs to be presented with the death certificate. Facebook also have a similar approach as do Google, so it is clear to see that online platforms are individually now making it easier to put affairs in order before you pass away.


When it comes to digital assets that have a financial value it is common that a pass key is required. So, if you own any crypto currency then you will have to make sure that the pass key or account details for any of the apps that you use can be passed to your executors so they can gain access to what they need.


Considering Digital Assets

The simple fact is that we need to consider our digital assets in the same way as other assets, especially if they hold financial value. The reality is as time passes, we are going to be doing more and more online and it is important to make sure that any digital assets are considered alongside your physical ones. This should give you peace of mind knowing that everything is in place and organised via your Will when the time comes.