Technology and Estate Planning

In a world of ever increasing use of digital processing and paper less….. well everything, it’s not just the whereabouts of a Will and the family jewels which we now need to think about to ensure that the process of dealing with the administration of a loved one's estate is as smooth as possible.

Assess to bank accounts, utilities, investments and other assets are not necessarily going to be obvious to executors by a paper trail that historically has always been available.

In this modern age of technology the assets which have proved extremely difficult to access for most executors and administrators, are the computers, laptops and mobile devises which most people now have.

Utility companies tend to no longer send paper copies of invoices and accounts, bank statements are usually prepared and available in electronic format but without all of the passwords and permissions required, executors can find them selves battling to get access to information.

Beyond the practical its it also more likely that beloved family photos and videos are going to be held in electronic format and lost for ever to family without the necessary access.

This is something with Apple have finally attempted to address, by creating a feature whereby users can now nominate an individual, known as a ‘Legacy Contact’ who, upon production of a death certificate can be given access to iCloud on, iOS15. This will allow access where most of the photos, videos and other precious memories are likely to be stored.

But the feature, like most has its limits…. without passwords and usernames to the devices, executors and family are still going to struggle to gain access to potentially important information needed to deal with the estate.

Social media is another area when there have been some moves in the right direction, Facebook particularly allows a user to make decisions as to what should happen to your account on death. Look for Memorialisation Settings to appoint a Legacy Contact, who can take over the account. 

With the limitations of access to the individuals accounts, it may still therefore be helpful to provide to a trusted family member, details of or necessary information, to allow assess to a phone or laptop or even online accounts and emails. If you have concerns with providing those details to others, details of the assets, passwords ect could always be held with your Will in a secure sealed letter and updated as and when required.

Anything that can be done to assist your executors to ensure that they can do everything possible to administer your estate fully and as simply as possible, will help to take away some of the stress of the process.

We look at pre-paid funeral plans and tax planning during our lifetime, to make sure things are covered or efficient on our deaths……but maybe now there is a new element to consider in the technological and virtual world that we live in.

For further advice and assistance please contact our Private Capital team.

Posted on: 14/06/2021

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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