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Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

£17bn of digital assets could be left in cyber space

£17bn of digital assets could be left in cyber space


Three quarters of Britons have no plans in place for their online assets in the event of their death

Failure to put plans in place for digital assets could result in £17bn of assets being left in cyberspace, with no one in place to claim or manage them.

94 per cent of British adults now have online accounts but only a quarter of them have put post-death plans in place, a report from the Co-operative Funeralcare has revealed.

The average British adult's digital assets are worth £265 and include properties such as films, music and books. There are over 500million online accounts and assets held throughout the UK.

Sam Kershaw, director of operations for the Co-operative Funeralcare, said: "It can be really hard and incredibly emotional to sort out the belongings and financial affairs of a loved one after they have passed away.

"Accessing and managing digital assets and accounts can add further complications to this, especially if you aren't aware which accounts exist or the process to follow.

He continued: Conversations about end of life are never easy, however as we increasingly live and manage our lives online, communicating with a loved one about the accounts you hold and what you would want to happen to them may greatly help should they ever need to access, manage or close accounts on your behalf."

Unable to cope

The report also reveals that over 78 per cent of bereaved people have experienced difficulties in managing a loved one's online accounts.

One fifth of respondents (20 per cent) found it so difficult that they were unable to manage the process at all.

However James Antoniou, head of wills for the Co-operate Legal Services, has warned against leaving sensitive information (such as passwords) in a will.

"It is important that people are aware that they should never leave online passwords in their will as it can become a public document after death," he said.

"Individuals can, however, leave details of the online accounts they hold in a sealed letter alongside their will and addressed to their executors to ensure that their digital lives are not missed, or forgotten about, once they have passed away."

Binyamin Ali is assistant editor of Private Client Adviser