Law Society advises Will writers on digital legacies

By Lenore Rice

The Law Society has advised Will writers of the importance of clear instructions when it comes to their digital legacies.

Many testators now have digital or online property, such as accounts for email, banking, investments, social networking sites, music, internet domains registered in their name, Bitcoins and other valuable assets. There are many different types of digital ownership that have a monetary value, such as video game characters that are developed over a long period of time and can be sold for relatively large sums of money online.

The different online companies with which the accounts and assets are held will have different approaches to the right to transfer ownership, with some companies having clarified that an account will die with the owner. Other potential difficulties involve jurisdictional and inheritance tax issues, largely because digital legacies are very much a new phenomenon.

The Law Society advises anyone with a digital legacy to write a Letter of Wishes that sets out the various online accounts and assets that they wish to pass on, which should give access to the executors, and advise them which accounts should be closed and how others should be dealt with. They should not include log-in details such as passwords or PINs as an executor could be found guilty of a criminal offence if they access accounts with those details.

If you require legal advice about making or updating a Will in Northern Ireland, contact one of the probate solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 9293.