The Law Society is encouraging people to consider what happens to their online presence when they die, and to include their “digital assets” (emails, photos etc) in their wills.

A survey commissioned by the Law Society revealed that three quarters of those surveyed do not know what happens to their online presence when they die, and 93% of the 1,000 respondents who have a will have not included any digital assets. Only 7% of those surveyed responded that they fully understood what this meant.

Law Society president David Greene said: ‘Photos, social media accounts and emails from loved ones are often just as treasured as physical possessions – and yet very few people understand what happens to their digital assets or why it is important to include them in their will.’

There are several potential issues with overlooking the treatment of digital assets on death: it can block access to information needed by loved ones for probate, such as online back accounts, and prevent access to treasured assets such as family photos.

Although the pandemic focused the minds of many to such matters, causing a noted increase in the number of people making and updating wills, the survey recorded that only 29% of the respondents had an up to date will.

The clear message is to ensure that you have an accessible record of online passwords to ensure that your loved ones who are faced with dealing with your affairs are spared as much stress as possible at an already emotionally challenging time.