Digital technology is an integral part of our personal lives, especially when we go on holiday. Instead of printing photographs and creating summer albums, we now store and share our sentimental memories digitally - flicking through holiday or other snaps is a common feature of family get togethers. This got us thinking about what happens to our digital assets after we have passed away or have lost capacity – how do we preserve these memories and stories for generations to come?

What are digital assets?

Digital photographs, videos, audio files and email content are some examples of digital assets which could be lost/locked away without the right planning.

However, some content we have access to digitally does not belong to us. We all love to read a book on holiday, often as an e-book. But such items (and also e.g. social media platforms) are treated differently to the above as they are accessed through a lifetime licence - giving rights to use, but not rights of ownership.


Whilst some digital assets may have little financial value, they could have immense sentimental value.

As our lives move increasingly online, it is important to consider, ahead of time, what digital assets you wish to pass on, to whom, and how this will be achieved from a practical perspective. Perhaps consider preparing a digital inventory, “digital will” or some other record of digital assets which are important to you.

Online platforms originally created services for the living – but they are now starting to consider what should happen when users die. Many now offer the option to select a trusted contact to access your digital accounts after your death. Apple and Google both allow users to appoint a "legacy" or "trusted" contact and options for how their account can be accessed and used after their death. Facebook has similar arrangements to appoint a legacy contact, with options for users to choose between memorialising their account, permanent deletion, or setting up a tribute section. Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat, currently only offer to memorialise the account or request the account to be closed.

We should also consider how our content would be accessed if we lose capacity.  A power of attorney ("POA") is a legal document which gives authority to those you appoint to act on behalf in relation to a variety of matters. This could include granting your attorneys access to your online accounts and digital assets. Most organisations (and rightly so) will not grant access to another individual's account without express authority, even to "next of kin" if an individual has lost capacity. A POA can act as such authority, and presenting a POA which includes the appropriate powers in relation to digital assets to the relevant organisation could prevent sentimental assets from being locked away due to red tape. If digital assets are a big feature in your life, perhaps it is worth checking if your power of attorney is wide enough to cover these?

Holiday planning

Enjoy your holiday with peace of mind that your affairs are in order – ensure you have a will and power of attorney in place and check these are fit for purpose.


Gillian Grant


Stacey Gourley