DIGITAL assets are as valuable as houses, cars and jewellery and should be included in people’s wills and estates, lawyers warn.
An Adelaide law firm is advising its clients to include usernames and passwords for their online banking, blogs, Instagram and social media accounts in their wills.
Rosemary Caruso, from Tindall Gask Bentley, said bereaved relatives were exposed to further grief and difficulty when trying to manage their lost loved one’s virtual assets.
She said she tells clients to consider their online presence and what instructions they need to leave their executor to deal with paperless bills, domain names and photos.
“It’s all about making people think about the fact that their assets aren’t just tangible,” she said.
“A lot of people don’t think they have any assets to give away but there are important things like your photos and your blog.”
Frank Media reported Australia had just under 11.5 million Facebook accounts, 11 million YouTube accounts and three million blogs with blogspot in April.
Social media expert Dr Melissa de Zwart said even notifying people of a loved one’s death had changed.
“(There may be) online communities that the person is a member of, how does the person’s next of kin identify and contact those people,” she said.
Ms Caruso recommended telling your executor where you had uploaded sentimental items such as your photos.
People did not need to give away their passwords now, but should consider writing down their usernames and answers to their secret questions and keep them in a safe place.
She also warned clients to follow basic internet safety and keep their passwords separate from their usernames to prevent identity theft after death. Dr de Zwart said a person’s online assets may not be obvious to family members and it was important to choose an executor capable of following your instructions.
“You might have quite a valuable player in World of Warcraft which might be worth thousands,” she said.
Online strategist Danni Francis is preparing a digital will because she wants to permanently protect her online reputation.
“I represent myself quite professionally online … I would want there to be nothing risking my reputation even if I was dead,” she said.
Ms Francis said she has always been “curious” about what happens to someone’s digital assets after death and wants to have a plan in place.
“They’re the types of decisions that I would like to make now, rather than have it dealt with in the wrong way.”