Future-Proofing Your Will: Planning for Digital and Tangible Assets


Throughout most of history, when making a will, one didn’t have to consider digital assets. Traditionally, wills dealt with money, houses, cars, books, and other physical items. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that digital assets are sometimes overlooked, but just like tangible assets, you can decide what happens to them.

Digital assets may include things like photos and videos saved on your devices, your social media accounts, email accounts, and any digital intellectual property.

While ideally you will avoid any dispute before it reaches court, sometimes this isn’t possible. In these cases, professional advice from a will dispute solicitor can help.

There are, though, steps you can take to make disputes more unlikely. Here are some tips to help plan for your digital and tangible assets, and future-proof your will.

Make a List and Gather Passwords

It’s a good idea to note down every tangible asset. A tangible asset is anything of physical substance: this includes buildings, land, furniture, equipment and machinery, vehicles, and electronic devices.

You may find it more difficult to keep track of your digital assets. Even for those of us who struggle with technology, it’s easy for our digital accounts and assets to stack up. It is useful to make a list of all your accounts so that you have an accurate record of potential assets.

The number of passwords used can also climb, and you’ll want to have a record of these to pass over to your will’s executor. Passwords can often be found under a programme in your web browser, such as in Google Password Manager, or on a computer application, such as Apple’s Keychain Access.

Be Aware of What You Own

It may come as a surprise, but much of the content stored on computers, smartphones and e-readers is not the consumer’s property. You may be merely a licensee for much of your music, movie and reading libraries.

This agreement is often tucked away in a terms of service contract that many of us choose to scroll or click past. The license may terminate at the time of death or prohibit your family accessing the licensed files.

On the other hand, social media accounts and email accounts belong to the owner, but the respective companies may be allowed to delete the account at the time of owner’s death. Knowing what you own can help ensure an easier transition to your heirs, and avoid hurdles in the future.

Keep Your Will Up to Date and Cater for the Future

Your wishes for the future may change, and so it’s important to keep your will up to date. If you choose not to, the existing version will be the one that’s legally recognised.

You may wish to include provisions for any future children. If you don’t yet have children but wish to plan for any potential child, your will can include “my children” as a beneficiary.

Substitute beneficiaries are another thing to consider. A substitute beneficiary can be named to cater for any unfortunate circumstances for the first-chosen beneficiaries.