Data after death: NSW Government to review digital asset laws

Data after death: NSW Government to review digital asset laws

Click here to view original web page at www.abc.net.au

At some stage in most people’s lives they will consider what will happen to their after their death.

Wills and testaments are filled with references to houses, money and family heirlooms, but most have never considered what will happen to their digital property when they die.

New South Wales is shining a spotlight on the issue, becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to investigate whether new are needed to clear up who can access data after death.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has referred the matter to the state’s Law Reform Commission.

“Not many of us think about what happens to our digital once we’ve gone or once we can’t make decisions anymore,” he said.

“The last thing that bereaved families want are bureaucratic hurdles and legal uncertainty.

“The Law Reform Commission will look at whether our laws are clear and fair enough to make sure people have some certainty over what will happen to their when they die.”

What are digital assets?

Digital assets is a broad term that refers to anything from intellectual property, private emails, digital music libraries and social media accounts.

What do you know about your digital assets, and what will become of them after your death?

But while most Australians use the internet every day, trustees and beneficiaries can still encounter problems with accessing the data of a deceased person.

“We’re the first Australian jurisdiction to be looking at these issues,” Mr Speakman said.

“There are some states in the United States that have a uniform code at the moment and we’ll be looking at whether those provisions should be replicated in New South Wales.”

The move has been welcomed by legal experts, with calls for reform in the area becoming louder in recent years.

‘Things just drift off into the ether’

Nexus Law Group’s Michael Perkins is a specialist in succession planning and said the NSW Government’s decision was timely.

“With the rising tide of the internet, the online economy and digital devices, the significance of digital data to day-to-day Australians is rapidly escalating,” he said.

“For many people these things just drift off into the ether and is littered with closed accounts of people who have died that are turned into tombstones.”

Mr Perkins said Australians concerned about what will happened to their digital assets should talk through their concerns with a legal expert.

“In dealing with digital assets, we’re dealing with a global community and a global economy,” he said.

“So the best way to deal with it is to engage in the international trends and make sure NSW properly engages with this very serious and current global issue.”

The Law Reform Commission will report back to the Government with its recommendations, with the review process expected to take between 12 and 18 months.


Facebook logo seen through glasses
A Facebook account is just one of the digital assets people should consider part of their legacy.

At some stage in most people's lives they will consider what will happen to their personal property after their death.

Wills and testaments are filled with references to houses, money and family heirlooms, but most have never considered what will happen to their digital property when they die.

New South Wales is shining a spotlight on the issue, becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to investigate whether new laws are needed to clear up who can access data after death.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has referred the matter to the state's Law Reform Commission.

"Not many of us think about what happens to our digital assets once we've gone or once we can't make decisions anymore," he said.

"The last thing that bereaved families want are bureaucratic hurdles and legal uncertainty.

"The Law Reform Commission will look at whether our laws are clear and fair enough to make sure people have some certainty over what will happen to their digital assets when they die."

What are digital assets?

Digital assets is a broad term that refers to anything from intellectual property, private emails, digital music libraries and social media accounts.

What do you know about your digital assets, and what will become of them after your death?

But while most Australians use the internet every day, trustees and beneficiaries can still encounter problems with accessing the data of a deceased person.

"We're the first Australian jurisdiction to be looking at these issues," Mr Speakman said.

"There are some states in the United States that have a uniform code at the moment and we'll be looking at whether those provisions should be replicated in New South Wales."

The move has been welcomed by legal experts, with calls for reform in the area becoming louder in recent years.

'Things just drift off into the ether'

Nexus Law Group's Michael Perkins is a specialist in succession planning and said the NSW Government's decision was timely.

"With the rising tide of the internet, the online economy and digital devices, the significance of digital data to day-to-day Australians is rapidly escalating," he said.

"For many people these things just drift off into the ether and Facebook is littered with closed accounts of people who have died that are turned into tombstones."

Mr Perkins said Australians concerned about what will happened to their digital assets should talk through their concerns with a legal expert.

"In dealing with digital assets, we're dealing with a global community and a global economy," he said.

"So the best way to deal with it is to engage in the international trends and make sure NSW properly engages with this very serious and current global issue."

The Law Reform Commission will report back to the Government with its recommendations, with the review process expected to take between 12 and 18 months.

Eleanore

Eleanore

Main curator on Digitaldeathguide. Supported by a bot. Some articles may need to be weeded, don't hesitate to tell me !