Avoid the dig­i­tal ceme­tery

Money Magazine Australia - - NEWS & VIEWS | THIS MONTH -

One day Face­book may have more dead “memo­ri­alised” mem­bers than liv­ing ones. Plan­ning for the own­er­ship of dig­i­tal as­sets in your will has never been more rel­e­vant.

Own­er­ship of dig­i­tal as­sets is a dif­fi­cult le­gal area as leg­is­la­tion and the so­cial me­dia plat­forms them­selves have strug­gled to keep up.

While the mo­ti­va­tion is of­ten to en­sure that pho­tos and pre­cious mem­o­ries are pre­served on so­cial me­dia plat­forms, don’t make the mis­take of as­sum­ing dig­i­tal as­sets have no value. Dig­i­tal wal­lets such as PayPal can have money stored on them, in­ter­net do­main names can have value and some­times be sold, and the mus­ings of blog­gers can even be a type of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty.

For in­vestors in bit­coin and other types of cryp­tocur­rency, what will hap­pen if you die is a big con­sid­er­a­tion. Cryp­tocur­rency is not reg­u­lated in the way that, say, a bank ac­count is, and may not be con­sid­ered in the es­tate ad­min­is­tra­tion process.

Your es­tate plan needs to con­sider dig­i­tal as­sets, with in­struc­tions left to the ex­ecu­tor on lo­cat­ing and ac­cess­ing th­ese dig­i­tal as­sets, to en­sure they pass to your ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Anna Hacker, na­tional man­ager, es­tate plan­ning, Aus­tralian Unity Trus­tees

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