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Estate Planning for Digital Assets

  • Extracted from an article on
  • 7 July 2022


What are digital assets?

Digital assets are intangible records or files that are stored online. Usually we can only access these files through a device such as a mobile phone, tablet, laptop etc.

digital asset can include:

  • Email accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Online banking accounts
  • Online subscription-based accounts
  • Ecommerce accounts (i.e. Amazon, eBay, etc.)
  • Photos saved online or on the ‘cloud’
  • Mobile phone apps
  • Online dating or gaming accounts
  • Online accounts for utilities
  • Loyalty program benefits (frequent flyer miles, credit card perks, etc.)
  • Any other personal information you store on your computer, cell phone, or tablet


Estate planning

Society have always seemed to be reluctant to plan for their mortality even with traditional assets. Research from Canada Life reveals that 59% of adults in the UK have still not written a Will.

The rise in digital assets has posed difficulties and presented a new angle to consider in estate planning. Many people may believe that they do not even own digital assets as they have never bought cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and therefore don’t consider it in their planning. But this is almost always incorrect. It is important to educate individuals on what digital assets are so that they can understand the value they hold.

For example, many of these types of assets only contain sentimental value for the holder, it is almost like the modern day equivalent of a family photo album which can hold great importance.

In accordance with Section 25 of the Administration of Estates, when someone dies the Personal Representatives have the responsibility to deal with the deceased’s estate. While tangible assets might be more apparent, digital assets might not show up in a search.  Even after being identified, accessing online accounts after death is extremely difficult at present. 


Raising awareness

The education around digital assets is expanding and ongoing, professional bodies such as STEP have been raising awareness in this area. This month STEP launched a ‘Protect your Digital Memories’ campaign to encourage individuals to plan ahead for what happens to these assets once someone passes away.


Emily Deane, Head of Government Affairs at STEP, said:

“With so much of our lives now lived online, we must make plans to pass on our digital memories or risk them being lost on the cloud.


We know from our previous research with estate planning practitioners that not being able to access a loved one’s digital assets can be a great source of distress for grieving families.”


If you would like advice about Wills and your Digital Assets contact Helena Grady on 0114 2588899.  Helena is a Solicitor and member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) with many years’ experience.  She can advise in relation to all elderly client issues.    


Fogwill & Jones Legal Services Limited is an independent niche law firm that trades alongside Fogwill & Jones Wealth Management. The businesses are entirely separate and regulated by different bodies.  The only connection is that they are both owned by Colin Fogwill.  The benefit to our clients is that when financial advice is needed alongside legal advice, these services are available at one location.