What happens to your digital affairs when they pass away? As well as preparing for what will happen to their digital accounts, Saga Legal Services is encouraging Brits to prepare a “last tweet” that records their final musings for future generations.
The advice comes as new research reveals 87% of Brit do not have a plan in place along with their will, leaving loved ones susceptible to significant burdens of time, effort and cost not to mention difficulty accessing accounts they have no passwords for.
There are currently very few legal provisions in place concerning digital legacy, and with Brits living more of their life online than ever, the need for proper planning is clear.
According to Saga Legal Services, digital legacy is an area of growing importance for the over 50s, with the number of 55-64 year olds using the internet daily more than doubling between 2006 and 2014, and quadrupling for those aged 65 and over.
Planning a digital legacy should encompass everything from shutting down social media profiles, apps and website accounts, to recovering outstanding funds held in these accounts, and removing unwanted digital content such as inappropriate photos or blog posts. This is, however, far from straightforward and could involve a great deal of effort at an emotional time.
Failing to plan for your digital legacy can cause further issues. As well as upsetting Facebook notifications “from beyond the grave”, money or credit held in digital accounts, such as online shops and gambling sites, may not be recovered unless requested.
It is also important to remove as much data about you as possible to avoid potential ID theft in the future. Worryingly, just one in five respondents were aware that when downloading some paid-for digital content, you only pay for the licence to use it while alive, meaning it can’t be bequeathed. The average Brit has so far spent £186 on digital assets, with that figure rising to £333 for those aged between 35 and 49.
But planning a digital legacy should not be exclusively about protecting against risks, advised Emma Myers, head of wills, probate and lifetime planning for Saga Legal Services. “All too often, last words are not heard or not remembered, and the internet provides a neat way of broadcasting your final message for all to see,” she said.
“The more digital accounts and apps we have, the more challenging it will be for our loved ones to deal with, and it’s also important to consider the financial implications. But the social media can also be used as a memorial tool, and we expect to see increasing numbers of people doing this in years to come.”