Be careful of digital legacies
Much is being made of digital legacies in the press once again, now that they are officially recognised by The Law Society protocol. However, much confusion still reigns among the general public, with regard to what can actually be included within a digital legacy.
The whole point of a digital legacy is to leave specific instructions for your executors, for what to do with social media accounts and online bank accounts, as well as material including music and photographs. Prepare a list now, detailing any online bank accounts or savings accounts, social media accounts and films, photos or music stored online. In this way, your executors will be able to access everything much faster and easier, distributing assets and content in the way in which you requested.
It is NOT recommended that you store information regarding passwords and PIN numbers – particularly if they are needed to access sensitive financial information such as online bank accounts. Indeed, should the executor tap into any of your accounts using these details, they will then become liable for prosecution under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.
What I would like to emphasise however, is that although a person who is now deceased may have purchased online copies of songs, films or artwork, they did not purchase the copyright. This means that copyright still belongs to the artist and that it cannot therefore be sold to anyone else.
Online material and accounts may now form part of our everyday life, but this does not mean that they can be treated in the same way as any physical assets which the deceased person leaves behind.