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Your data, your Will and your rights in the Facebook age


We all know that ‘digital’ has become an increasing part of our lives, and we can expect that it’s here to stay. Whether online banking, hailing a cab or staying in touch with friends… we have all heard that in these times “there’s an app for that!”

The legacy of our digital footprint lives long after we pass on. Our digital footprint is important and contains personal information, with many accounts holding a sum of cash for a variety of purposes. Some people are turning to ‘digital wills’ to ensure that their own digital footprint with be dealt with as their wishes once they have passed away.

There can be actual monetary value held in a password secured account in either a game, spread betting account, stock trading app or similar. Therefore many are turning to digital executors who utilise the login details provided by their users with login details, passwords to clear unwanted legacies once their users pass. The digital executor can access personal data via a secure server to close down online subscriptions, erase secret email folders and remove online photos from social media.

So how does it work?

Online wills and digital executors store passwords at a secure location where testators can update them at any time. Once they have passed a named guardian is able to access the held data upon presenting a death certificate for the deceased.

This is a worthwhile pursuit – according to recent statistics, the average person holds 26 accounts online for a variety of services such as e-mails, social media, banking accounts, online shopping, payment gateways such as PayPal and communication services such as Skype. It’s also worth remembering that many of the online digital content providers (such as iTunes) state in their T&C’s that the purchases we we make are licensed for lifetime only, so purchases ‘expire’ once we pass.

Presently it is estimated that a quarter of people have over £200 stored on ‘cloud’ services and the total value of such content in the UK is approximated at £2.3 billion.

Over 1/10 people make provision for internet passwords to be passed on and made available to someone their care for or trust after they die. It is however important to remember that these credentials should not be documented in a Will itself, as this will become a public document after the death of said individual.

In dealing with the trend of digital wills, laws have been passed in several US states protecting the rights of appointed digital executors to access or close down the digital accounts of people after their death, however UK law has yet to follow suit.

Recently in light of the Facebook scandal involving external firm Cambridge Analytica, the spotlight has firmly focused on protection of data on the platform. Now might be the time to make use of their ‘Nominate a Friend’ facility allowing someone else to manage your content after you have passed –

It isn’t always nice to think of what might happen to your finances and your estate after you die. However, it is an important consideration that needs taking into account at some stage in all our lives.

Marden & Co Accountants, working with our partners at Civil Wills, aim to guide you through what seems a daunting prospect at the beginning. We offer simple and straightforward advice and are also experts at helping you minimise the amount of inheritance tax you pay.

We are well placed to guide you through all the steps you need to take to give your loved ones the best possible financial outcome after you’ve gone so for a free consultation to discuss your options, get in touch with Marden & Co today – you can give us a call on 01737 851 761 for a no-obligation chat or drop us an email on