In the past, in the unfortunate
event of death, your family could easily determine what assets you own and
divide them among themselves. However, in this digital age, the consequences of
death have become a complicated affair mainly because we now store valuable and
sentimental information online.
What will happen to your online banking account, Facebook profile and YouTube channel, etc upon your death? By executing a digitally aware will, you ensure that what happens to your digital assets upon your death is up to you.
WHAT ARE DIGITAL ASSETS?
You may be thinking ‘I’m not tech
savvy so I don’t have any digital assets’; but the truth is you probably do. A
digital asset can be defined as any content, in any format, that is stored
digitally and provides value for the user. It can be something as simple as a
Twitter account, an email account or even your iTunes account. In your
digitally aware will, you state what must happen to your digital assets when
In the case of digital assets of purely
sentimental value, such as your Twitter profile, you can make it clear in your
will that you wish for your partner or children to be able to access and
download your pictures and delete the account afterwards.
Some digital assets may however
have monetary value, for example, more and more YouTube celebrities earn huge
revenues from their work which is all held online and classified as an asset.
Sometimes they earn millions in ad reviews and these assets can continue to
earn even after the owner’s death. In this case, you may want to bequeath the
income generated from your YouTube channel in your will or include it in your
DIGITAL ESTATE PLANNING
The first step in drawing up a
digitally aware will is making an inventory of what digital assets you have and
how to access them. Then you will need to indicate in your will where the
inventory of your digital assets can be found by your executor following your
death. Be careful not to list your digital assets in your will as your will
becomes accessible to the greater public upon registering it with the Master of
the High Court after your death. For
this reason, you should rather store your username and passwords in a safety
deposit box and state that it is to be made available to a nominated person
following your death.
In your will, you may include a
digital management clause which may, for example, state that your executor will
decide who benefits from your digital assets or name the beneficiaries of your
digital assets. It is important however; that you check the Terms and
Conditions of the licensing as some digital assets may ‘die’ with you (the
license may not be transferable to your heirs after your death). For example,
the Terms and Conditions of iCloud state that you agree that your account is ‘non-transferable’, meaning Apple
terminates the rights to your Apple ID and the content in your account after
All digital assets that you own
and that have monetary value will be included in your estate when you die. If
however, the asset is not worth money or you don’t own it, you have no right to
transfer it therefore you cannot pass it through your will. These include, for
example, email accounts and online subscriptions such as Netflix and Spotify.
A will provides certainty upon
your death as to how you wish your assets to be divided and simplifies things
for your grieving family. However, in absence of South African legislation
expressly stating how and when to deal with your digital assets in your will,
it may be important to consult with an expert who will assist you to properly
address these assets in your will until the time comes when legislative
regulation of digital assets becomes available.
For more information contact:
https://randles.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Consumer-Blog-Images-74.png350800Randles/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/logo.pngRandles2020-03-31 07:37:412020-03-31 07:37:42YOUR DIGITAL LIFE AFTER DEATH: DIGITALLY AWARE WILLS