Every day, people all over the world create sentimental digital assets by taking pictures, making music, or saving documents. What happens to these assets when you die?

What is a digital asset?

The term "digital assets" covers any asset held electronically rather than in physical form. Common examples are:

• Digital currency or digital art, e.g. cryptocurrency or non-fungible tokens; and

• Digital records, e.g. pictures or other files stored electronically.

Digital assets and social media accounts after death

Some providers have created processes to provide your loved ones with access to your digital platforms after your death.

Examples of these processes include:

•  Apple's new 'Digital Legacy' feature

You choose up to five people to have access to your iCloud account, including access to your photographs and messages by presenting a unique security key and a copy of your death certificate. Before this feature, a court order was required to allow bereaved relatives access to these accounts.

• Facebook's 'Legacy Contact' feature

You appoint one individual, and, after your death, this person can make decisions about your account, including accessing content, writing a post and closing the account.

• Google's 'Inactive Account Manager' feature

This notifies your appointed contact(s) if you have been inactive for 18 months and allows them to access selected content. You can also indicate whether Google should delete your account after notification.

Whilst these features are similar, there is not yet a universal approach across all platforms. This can create challenges for your loved ones.

What can you do about digital assets in your will?

Providing for digital assets will be particularly important for individuals where these assets comprise a significant portion of their wealth. It is important to inform your solicitor of any valuable digital assets, such as music, digital art or crypto currency so methods of passing these on can be reviewed and discussed.  However, many of us will hold digital assets of purely sentimental value, such as pictures. What then?

• Ensure you have completed any existing processes, such as those noted above;

• You may wish to include an express provision in your will confirming that your executors should have the power to deal with your digital assets. This can be helpful as some of the problems in accessing or transferring digital assets come from difficulty establishing the family members 'right' to access the asset. Your lawyer will be able to advise further;

You may now be tempted to write down a list of your online accounts and corresponding passwords. Please don't. Not only does this pose a security risk both during your lifetime and on your death; it may breach the service provider's terms and conditions.

As the digital world around us becomes an increasingly more crucial aspect of our life, it is key that you consider what you want to happen to any digital assets you may have after your death. Should you wish to discuss your digital assets further please do not hesitate to get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.