How Can I Make Life Easier For Those Left Behind?

26th April 2024


by Sarah Lamb, Partner, Solicitor

As a lawyer who specialises in Estate Administration, Sarah Lamb is given information in many different forms by family members when someone dies. Some still have paper copies of bills, bank statements and so on, but increasingly records, and in some cases assets, are digital. She explains here what people can do during their lifetime to help after their death. Some of the principles also apply to itemising information so that it can be found by Attorneys if someone loses capacity.

Digital records and digital assets are sometimes confused but are two different things. Digital records cover things such as online bank statements, online utility bills, shares held in nominee accounts and viewed on a share platform, or online shopping accounts.

Digital assets might include anything that is only held digitally and has the ability to create value for the owner, so anything from a social media account to photographs, videos, metadata, manuscripts or cryptocurrency.

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You may not have all, or even many, of these, but the chances are you will have some.  As a starting point, unless you have already done so, you may want to think about the following:

  • Do you have a list somewhere of all financial accounts and other assets you hold, or is there a danger that some things might not be found? For instance, items as simple as an online National Lottery account with a positive balance could easily be overlooked, as could a pre-loaded card containing foreign currency for holidays.
  • Have you got a system in place, whether electronic or otherwise, to ensure that if you were no longer able to access your accounts yourself, your executor or attorney would be able to do so on your behalf (subject to getting the appropriate permissions from the provider of the service)?
  • Have you thought about what you would want to happen to things like your social media accounts? Some are potentially tricky for other people to close down on your behalf, while others give you options to specify in advance what you would wish to happen to your account.

It will be much easier for those who need to administer your affairs for you under a Power of Attorney if you lose capacity, or for your Executors when you die, if you have taken time to pull all of this information together. This is particularly true if your total assets are sufficient that you could have a taxable estate when you die, as having all the correct figures is an essential part of applying for a Grant of Probate.

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An increasing number of people are now creating something to cover all of this, although it can go under a range of different names.  It might be an ‘asset and digital asset log’, a ‘personal asset log’, or ‘an in case of death’ file.

If you would like to discuss digital records and assets with one of our solicitors, email or call a member of our team on 01945 461 456.

This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek advice specific to your own circumstances. Fraser Dawbarns LLP is always happy to provide such advice.

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