10 Tips for Digital Estate Planning

Wills, Trusts & Probate insights

Giving thought in your lifetime to your digital assets and digitally stored information can help your Executors with the administration of your estate.

Here are 10 tips to consider for digital estate planning:


1. Internet Service Providers – check their Terms & Conditions

The right to access information after your death will be governed by each Internet Service Providers’ Terms & Conditions. For instance, Apple has strict Terms and Conditions for access to information after a customer has died and its general policy is to delete all information on notification of a death unless a court order is obtained.

Some internet service providers have systems in place for family members or Executors to access your information after your death

e.g. Facebook has a Legacy Contact and Memorialisation function and Google has an Inactive Account Manager.


2. Keep an inventory of online accounts
Consider keeping a physical list of your online accounts, logins and passwords in a secure location known to your Executors and keep this up to date. A digital password manager could be used as an alternative.

Remember to include logins to any cloud storage facilities you use.


3. Storage of photo and video libraries
Consider keeping hard copies of treasured family photos or store them on an external hard drive or USB. You may have photos or videos of a sensitive or confidential nature and consider whether you would wish your family/Executors to have access to these.


4. Music libraries
Any music libraries held at date of death, such as iTunes, will no longer be accessible as you simply held a licence to listen during your lifetime. Consider keeping a list of favourite music in a Letter of Wishes for inclusion at a funeral service or memorial.


5. Loyalty Points
Some loyalty point schemes can be valuable, particularly air miles. Some loyalty points are transferable on death but check the Terms and Conditions for each provider. Consider including instructions in your Will for valuable loyalty points otherwise consider using loyalty points regularly during your lifetime.


6. Email Accounts
Email accounts can be a vital source of information for Executors when administering an estate. They can also contain sensitive and confidential information. Consider keeping hard copies of important emails.


7. Utilities and Smart appliances
Some utilities, such as central heating, are now controlled through an online account or an app on your phone. Executors can have difficulty with the provider to access these accounts without the login information. Ensure your Executors have access to your login information.

Some smart appliances contain personal data of the deceased owner such as a smart television or smart kitchen appliances. These appliances should be returned to factory settings before a property sale or individual sale.


8. Will Drafting
If you have significant digital assets / information consider whether an expanded definition of personal chattels should be included in your Will, to include any digital assets/information you have.

If you have social media accounts or businesses online that generate income and are an asset of your estate, such as a YouTube channel or an Instagram Account, then please bring this to the attention of the solicitor advising you on your estate planning.


9. Clients who lack capacity
Through unsupervised access to the internet vulnerable clients who lack capacity may be at risk of scams, fraud etc.

Attorneys under a Power of Attorney or a Deputy under a Financial Deputyship should consider whether the donor should have unfettered access to the internet or whether this should be monitored.

We recommend to our clients that they include in their Powers an instruction that their Attorneys have the power to access their digital assets when acting in their capacity as Attorneys.


10. Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency is currently being treated by HMRC as a chargeable asset for Capital Gains Tax and property for the purposes of Inheritance Tax.

Consider telling your Executors about your cryptocurrency assets and ensure they have knowledge of where your public and private keys are stored so they may access your cryptocurrency after your death. Without your public and private keys your Executors will not be able to access your cryptocurrency.

If you have cryptocurrency, please bring this to the attention of the solicitor advising you on your estate planning.


These notes are not exhaustive and are meant as a basis for discussion with your legal adviser. If clients wish to discuss any of the above, please contact our Private Client Team 020 8940 4051 who will be pleased to help you

IMPORTANT: this information is intended to be a general statement of the law. No action should be taken in reliance on it without seeking specific legal advice.

Our Private Client team

Dixon Ward | Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate & Trusts  | Notarial Services | The Team | Gregory White | Our Story

Gregory White

Private Client department
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Dixon Ward | Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate & Trusts | The Team | Abigail Pfister

Abigail Pfister

Private Client department
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Dixon Ward | Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate & Trusts | The Team | Paul Denza

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Dixon Ward | Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate & Trusts | The Team | Bryony Greenfield

Bryony Greenfield

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Dixon Ward | Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate & Trusts | The Team | Reena Khatri

Reena Khatri

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Dixon Ward | Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate & Trusts | The Team | Sabrina Caldeira

Sabrina Caldeira

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Dixon Ward | Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate & Trusts | The Team | Shaun'Tay Saunders

Shaun’Tay Saunders

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