Testators are increasingly being advised to leave clear instructions about their ‘digital legacies’ after their death.
The latest organisation to stress the importance of online assets is the Law Society. It recommends that people should, at the very least, keep an up-to-date list of all their online accounts, such as email, banking, investments and social networking sites, to make it easier for family members to recover or close them.
However, the society considers that the list should stop short of recording passwords or PINs. ‘An executor accessing [the deceased’s] account with these details could be committing a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990’.Passwords should certainly not be listed in a will which will ultimately have to be published.
The term ‘digital legacy’ also encompasses computer game characters in online games like World of Warcraft; music and films; internet domains registered to the deceased; YouTube videos; and Bitcoins, all of which can represent valuable assets