Article | Fabulous Women

Cyberspace, anything to do with Wills?

Posted on 24/04/2012

Today the internet plays a bigger role in everyones lives from social media, banking, buying and selling products, social networking sites, the list goes on.

People can access the internet freely through computers, laptops and mobile phones. The internet is at everyones fingertips.

Research estimates that the value of possessions held by Britons in the technological 'cloud' is more than 2 billion.

More than a quarter of people in the UK have hundreds of pounds worth of films, videos and music stored online. A third of them believe that it is valuable enough to be left in their Wills.

People take the time to make a Will to ensure their estates are left in an orderly manner and that their assets go to those that they wish. It helps to lessen the worry at a time when family and people close to them are grieving. Should not the same care and consideration be given to ensuring a persons internet life can be managed and dealt with after they pass away?

People should consider including leaving their internet passwords in their Wills so that friends and family can control, access and save their personal data on sites such as Facebook, Linked in and Twitter after they die. By doing so they ensure that they pass on valuable possessions online to people they want. Otherwise, digital photography, home videos and recordings can be lost in cyberspace.

A Goldsmiths survey shows more than 10 -11% of people in the UK have put important internet passwords in their Will or plan to do so, allowing access to information stored in 'cloud' services, such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Facebook, iCloud and Flickr which would otherwise be lost. By doing so, people are ensuring their personal data is archived and not abused. There have been many unfortunate cases of people hijacking others Facebook accounts, especially those who have died and are no longer here to control their digital identity.

Another danger is that Facebook accounts of people who have died, for which family members cannot obtain the password, become digital shrines. As no-one has access and the deceased is no longer managing the account an increasing number of accounts that have fallen prey to spammers. With more photos, books, music and so on being stored online and digitally, people really need to consider - what happens to these when people die?

Increasingly people want their digital identities to be controlled after they are gone. They also want their families to have access to personal photos and home videos which are stored in the cloud, rather in a physical album stored at home and easily accessible.

With technological advances the drafting of Wills has to move with the times. Wills need to reflect the changing needs of people and the new emerging issue of digital inheritance.

How can this be done? Lawyers are already considering how to tackle the problem. Thought needs to be put into where to store the passwords to ensure that they do not end up falling into the wrong hands.

Making provisions for digital inheritance in a Will not need be taxing.

Julie Man is a Partner at Mundays LLP of Cedar House, 78 Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 1AN Telephone: 01932 590643 Email:

Back Author : Charlie Thomas

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