The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) has announced the launch of its Digital Legacy Scorecard, designed to help millions of people in the UK protect the digital assets and memories of their loved ones.
According to STEP, estate planning practitioners are subject to increasing demand for advice from bereaved family members who find themselves locked out of or unable to close the digital accounts of their loved ones. This can lead to the loss of precious memories and a heightened risk of identity theft.
To address the situation, STEP is urging cloud service providers to improve their legacy settings and provide more support so that people can better plan and protect their digital estates. Its new Digital Legacy Scorecard rates the legacy settings for ten major cloud service providers, including Apple, Instagram and Google.
The basic requirements rated by STEP’s Digital Legacy Scorecard include:
- having clear and publicly displayed criteria for determining what events trigger an account to be deemed inactive;
- making provision for account holders to pre-determine options that allow access for a designated recipient or a fiduciary in the event of death or incapacity;
- the amount of information and publicity present in the platform to promote user awareness of this type of planning feature.
The full ratings and further details about the Scorecard can be found at https://www.step.org/digital-legacy-scorecard
What is a ‘Digital Asset’?
Digital Assets can include, but not limited to, the following items:
- Bank Accounts including PayPal, Inland Revenue, Credit Unions.
- Share Trading – Spread Betting, Stockbroker, etrade, online gambling e.g.888, Ladbrokes
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Snapchat.
- Email Accounts – Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail.
- Content Holders – iTunes, Amazon, eBooks, Spotify
- Government Departments – HMRC, Electoral services, Power of Attorney
- Online Auction Sites – eBay, Gumtree, Etsy
- Online Gaming Sites such as World of Warcraft
- Blogs containing intellectual property
- Domain Names and Websites
- Virtual Currency – Cryptocurrency e.g. Bitcoins
- Cloud Storage – Drop Box, Live Drive.
Also, anything you have created and stored on an electronic device which could be the draft of your first novel or your personal diary for example. While these do not have a financial value, they are important to your family. The vast majority of digital assets are at the very least password protected and this will cause great difficulties for anyone else to access them and deal with any issues when you can’t.
It can be difficult keeping a record of your digital assets so we have created a downloadable log to assist you in doing so.