Distributing Your Estate – Don’t Forget Your Digital Assets!

When writing your will, decisions must be made when gifting your physical assets. Digital assets are often overlooked. Digital assets are important during your lifetime but also for your beneficiaries as they can inherit digital data upon your death. 

Digital data is a broad term used to describe personal information stored electronically. It may include things such as photographs, documents and emails. 

During your lifetime provisions are being made and systems put in place by the private sector to enable your digital assets to be granted access by family members when you die. It should be noted that many online platforms require the user to elect beneficiaries of their data during their lifetime, rather than gifting them powers upon death i.e. through their will. Following other tech companies including Google and Facebook, Apple has introduced a feature which aims to address digital assets through Apple Legacy.  Prior to its introduction, family members of the deceased had limited avenues to accessing the individual’s devices and data. 

Apple Legacy allows up to five people to be elected as ‘Legacy Contacts’. Upon the death of the user, these contacts (once activated) have access to the data and personal information stored in iCloud and Apple ID. With so much of our lives stored on our phones and in other digital forms, accessing this information is helpful and even comforting from a sentimental perspective of grieving family members. In order to activate your powers as a legacy contact, Apple will require proof of death and an access key (a code). It should be noted that this access to the deceased’s data does have an expiration date. After a 3-year period of Legacy Contact access provided by Apple, the deceased’s account and data will be permanently deleted. 

As there is significant discourse surrounding the topic of data privacy and protecting your information, this should be a consideration before creating an Apple digital legacy as you are allowing another individual access to your data upon your death. 

As many digital assets need to be addressed during your lifetime, it is a good opportunity to review your affairs and plan for the future. Technology and digital assets continue to emerge and evolve, so considering how and if you would like to disburse your digital assets, will continue to be an important aspect of your estate planning. 


If you would like to discuss your estate planning options, contact us today.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is general and is not intended to be advice on any matter. It is for information only and is not legal advice. In the event of a legal problem, you should seek legal advice.

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