Digital Assets: Know what you own, know how to pass it on

Posted on by Mike Evans

It seems that millions are lost every year when people die without passing on details of their digital assets. The most common failing is when executors cannot access bank accounts because the passwords are not known. But the term “digital assets” goes well beyond the obvious. What becomes of your photo library, your iTunes library or your journal when you die? As we digitise more and more aspects of our lives, future executors will be faced with a near-impossible task unless we take some sensible precautions now.

This is easier said than done. Passwords change all the time and it is virtually impossible to keep updating a Will or constantly to send changes to executors.  This week the web site Remember a Charity in the UK published a guide to digital assets. A survey of 2,000 people showed that few have considered how they will pass on their digital possessions. Over half the respondents had digital music collections, with ten percent putting a value of over £1,000 on the library. And a third of people owned smartphone apps with collections sometimes worth over £100. Gone are the days of being able to bequeath record or CD collections, and soon books will be joining the list of digital-only media. Here is a digital asset checklist you can download.

While it is important to decide what to do with your collections of sentimental value, the big problem comes when executors have to find the cash. Many people, especially older people, have money stashed away in internet-only banks which can be very inflexible when it comes to allowing access without all the correct passwords. Worse, executors could be completely unaware of the existence of accounts.

Just one secure password will unlock all your digital assets and give your executors all the information they could wantOne obvious solution is to use 1Password to store all your passwords and personal information. This serves as a checklist of bank accounts and other digital assets and provides executors with the means of accessing those assets. You can happily change the individual passwords as often as you like and it will still be possible for executors to track down all the cash and other assets.

1Password, as it says on the tin, requires just one (strong) password to protect all your other passwords. One password or passphrase is something that can be included in a Will or given in confidence to executors. I have a good strong password for 1Password that I do not use anywhere else, especially not with any on-line service. It is thus very difficult to compromise and should be guarded jealously.


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