Britons 'should consider online presence when making a will'

by Sarah Ashcroft

An increasing number of Britons are seeking advice from financial professionals about what they should do about their online wealth when making out a will.

John-Paul Dennis, head of private client at Merseyside-based law company Kirwans, told the Liverpool Daily Post that individuals who fail to seek help on this matter could face having their items - such as music downloads and family history - locked away after they die.

Digital assets count as items that have been obtained through websites, as well as passwords to social media and online banking services.

Individuals who reveal their account details when making a will can allow their loved ones to access their wealth in accordance with their wishes or think about a legal challenge if there is a disagreement over the ownership of such items.

Mr Dennis said: "Digital wealth is a complex area because it is surrounded by so many legal issues. By leaving details of online accounts in your will you can avoid complex arguments with digital service providers.

"Steps can also be taken to either preserve or erase a person's online persona depending on the wishes of the individual making the will or indeed their family."

He added that it can be extremely upsetting for families if they are recommended to add a deceased relative as a friend on Facebook, but noted some people may find it comforting to read their loved one's social networking posts after they are gone.

The will-making expert noted that there has been an increase in the number of clients looking to discuss their intentions regarding digital issues, while taking steps to reveal their passwords and usernames in a document alongside their will.

Highlighting a change in the mindset of tech-savvy individuals, Mr Dennis said failure to provide relevant information in the document could cause to problems for family members and friends of those who have passed away.

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Published on: December 17, 2012

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