Digital assets: What happens to your virtual existence upon your death?

2020-03-25 06:05

WHEN we die, our executors are responsible for the administration of our Estate.

Most of us ensure that we have a will to deal with our tangible assets (eg. our house, our vehicle, our investments). However, most of us do not take into account the fact that a lot of our information nowadays is password protected.

For example, to log in to a computer or to access our investment statements or similar documents, a password is often required.

These passwords are a material part of our lives.

It is important to be aware of the fact that although you may bequeath your laptop or desktop computer to your chosen beneficiary, the information on your laptop or desktop computer may be considered by you to be private and confidential and you may wish to exclude this from the bequest to your chosen beneficiary. For example, you may require your device to be “wiped clean” before your chosen beneficiary receives it.

Our South African Law on digital inheritance is undeveloped. It is therefore up to each individual to make provision for what happens with his/her digital assets that are of financial and sentimental value.

It is advisable to have a separate document from your will, which contains a complete and comprehensive inventory of your digital assets and the instructions to your executor on how you require your executor to manage them.

This must be stored in a very safe place.

For further assistance please contact Margaret McCullough on 033 845 9700. -Nicolene Rajah (Candidate Attorney) of Leslie Smith & Company Inc.


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