|Growing Number of Testators Leave Digital Legacy|
More than ten per cent of Britons have mentioned their online passwords in their wills, according to a survey.
The poll of 2,000 adults, was performed by London University's Centre for Creative and Social Technology. It found that the population owns GBP2.3 billion of Internet-hosted assets such as movies, music, online subscriptions and Ebay accounts.
According to the report, Generation Cloud, just over half of UK adults have treasured possessions stored online in what it calls "cloud services". Nearly a quarter estimate that they have assets worth more than GBP200 in the cloud. About 44 per cent store financial or legal documents on the Net, and some people even store their own wills there.
People also hold large amounts of online data of purely sentimental value, such as Facebook photographs, which they do not want to see lost on their death. Archives of e-mail messages are another example, although it is debatable whether everyone would want these made available to others after their death.
Thirty per cent of the sample considered their digital possessions as potentially part of their estate, and 11 per cent either have included passwords in their will or plan to do so, the survey found.
The report quotes Steven Thorpe, a partner at Sussex law firm Gardner Thorpe. "Digital inheritance is an area that will become increasingly important given, for instance, the monetary value of music collections and sentimental value of photograph collections", he said. "Fewer people now keep hard copies of either, and a very real danger is that the valuable contents of private cloud accounts will simply be lost upon the owner's death either because the accounts are not known about by others or because access is not possible without the user and password details".
The good news, adds Thorpe, is that "drafting wills and including provision for digital inheritance is relatively cheap and straightforward".
The opinions expressed do not constitute investment advice and specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Published on our website on October 20, 2011