Be careful not to let your online assets disappear after your death

Posted on 11th October 2012

More and more of us are joining the digital revolution with it being estimated that over 85% of the population is online and one in three people in Britain now have a Facebook account. With increasing worries about identity theft and computer hacking we are told not to use the same password for each login, never disclose login details, and to shred old documents containing personal information.

Many banks and utility companies now offer discounts if you switch to paperless billing, or offer paperless billing as standard. This means that you rarely receive bills and statements through the post. Whilst this is all well and good for your carbon footprint and your bank balance, this can cause problems for your executors on your death. The Financial Times gave an estimate that £77 billion of money is sitting dormant in accounts unclaimed.

An executor needs to be able to find details of someone’s assets on death and this is usually done by going through the paperwork kept at your property. With more and more people moving towards paperless finances you may have all this information contained in your email account or on a spread sheet on your computer. But does your computer and/or email account have a password to be able to log in?

You may also have money floating around the online ether that is not held by a bank or financial institution. You may have a PayPal account, a credit balance on an online gambling/bingo website, a National Lottery account, a Playstation Network/Xbox Live account and many more.

It is not unusual for you to want to keep details about your finances a secret, so it is difficult to strike a balance between keeping your accounts secure, but ensuring that your executors will be able to obtain details of your assets so that your estate can be correctly administered.

How can this be resolved without disclosing your personal information to all and sundry?

There are companies that will store your login details on a secure server – for a charge. One easier and cheaper option would be to keep a note of your online assets and the login details in a sealed envelope with your will. If your will is being stored securely then the envelope would never be opened until the time came to do so. You would need to ensure that these details were updated regularly to avoid any of your assets being lost in cyperspace. We are happy to store this at no charge in our secure strongroom facility here at Brachers.