Online passwords added to inheritance wills

Online passwords added to inheritance wills

Around a quarter of adults in the UK have around £200 worth of music, film and video, according to new research, and the total amount passed on through digital inheritance amounts to £2.3bn.

In a poll of 2,000 people, on- third considered their digital possessions valuable enough to pass on, according to cloud computing company Rackspace, while 11 per cent have already put digital passwords in their wills.

Billions of pounds worth of digital media is stored on sites such as Flickr, Facebook and various email providers. But if passwords are not passed on after death, they won’t be accessible to loved ones.

Rackspace found that 53 per cent of people held “treasured possessions” in these services, including photos, videos and sentimental emails.

Lawyers said that the passing on of internet passwords marked a change in inheritance trends and urged people to consider asking loved ones to log on for their inheritance.

Matthew Strain, partner at London law firm Strain Keville, said: “People have not yet come to grips with the value of these digital possessions and the risk is that they may be lost if the owner dies, or even that their estate may be liable for ongoing subscriptions to online magazines or newspapers, for instance.”

By 2020, a third of people are expected to store all music online while a quarter of people polled said that all their photos will be kept online.

Your Digital Legacy Can Live On

Your Digital Legacy Can Live On

I read with interest this week that an estimated 11% of people in the UK are leaving their internet passwords in their will so that their loved ones can access their personal data online.

A survey commissioned by cloud computing company Rackspace concluded that more than a quarter of the 2,000 people asked had digital assets worth more than £200. With photographs, films and videos so easily stored online, they have in many cases replaced the hard copy photo album and DVD. When you lose someone, it makes sense that you’d still want to be able to access those assets rather than leaving them online.

By 2020, a third expect to store all their music online, whilst a quarter anticipated keeping all their photos online. In addition, passwords for sites such as Facebook and Flickr are also being included in wills to ensure that personal data can be protected. It’s a sensible idea given how difficult it can be to get hold of these passwords.

Facebook pages can often become tributes to the person, but can also fall victim to spammers or malicious comments, so bequeathing your passwords can allow those left behind to maintain these pages or close them down.

Only the other day, I was shocked to see Facebook suggesting I might want to be friends with someone who is no longer with us – it’s the decent thing to empower relatives to take these pages down if it’s not appropriate that they’re online any more. I hate to be old school about it, but I’m not sure being left an eBook or Flickr account is quite as precious as the original book or a box of old photos owned by someone you loved!

What are your thoughts?