The majority of assets left in Wills are homes, land, cash, shares and personal possessions which hold great sentimental value. However, the rise of the digital age has led to the creation of various types of crypto currencies (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum), NFTs and online businesses, all of which are accessed and stored electronically and have no tangible form to them. It is estimated that nearly two million adults in the UK owned at least one type of crypto-currency in 2020, but how many of these owners have considered what will happen to their holdings after they have died?
If you have digital assets of your own and are concerned as to what happens to them when you pass away, we have complied a simple guide on the steps you can take to ensure they are not lost to the ether forever.
Conduct a thorough review of your digital assets and keep a record of any logins, usernames, and passwords that your executors may need to access online accounts. You may wish to have this log as a hard copy which can be stored securely with your Will.
If you hold crypto-currency, make a note of the private and public keys for any digital wallets you have that hold the currency. Your Executors will need these to administer your estate and to transfer crypto to beneficiaries.
Schedule a reminder in your calendar for at least every six months to review and update your asset log. This ensures your executors have the most up-to-date information on your portfolio and what is to be included in your estate.
Review the terms and conditions of your specific asset holders to understand if there are any special steps or procedures which your Executors may need to follow when you die.
If you feel that the persons you have named as Executors in your Will do not have the skills or expertise to deal with digital assets, you may want to consider choosing separate executors who do possess the right skills to look after these assets after you have died. This can give you peace of mind that you are not burdening family members or friends with a task and area they have no experience with.
Review and update your Will (if necessary) to include any gifts of specific digital assets. This ensures that if you have specific recipients in mind for certain assets, the executors are able to distribute to those recipients based on your instructions. Any assets that are not specifically gifted to a beneficiary would fall into your residuary estate and be distributed to your residuary beneficiaries.
These steps should help to make the winding up of your affairs that little bit easier for those involved but if you would like to discuss your Will or would like further advice on digital assets you may have, please contact us today.
Written by Liam Mulholland, Trainee Solicitor