We all know that we should have, at the very least, a basic will to make sure our assets go to the right people when we die.
What is often overlooked is our online presence, which is increasingly forming a larger part of our lives.
Many of us will have online paperless accounts, ranging from paperless credit card accounts to bank accounts. I was chatting to someone last week who had an online share dealing account and admitted that if he died, no one would know that it exists.
There are billions of pounds of unclaimed assets in the UK alone and this is like to increase as online accounts become more popular.
We should therefore ask ourselves: if we died, do our executors know exactly what online accounts we have? Do they know the passwords or account numbers to enable them to log on and check account balances, or pay credit card balances?
Many of us will have Paypal accounts, Facebook or other social media, yet most people have no idea what happens to these when we die.
Care needs to be taken if giving passwords to other people. This may be in breach of the user policy of some of these companies and could have security implications if the passwords fall into the wrong hands.
Younger generations especially, will have built up a wide collection of online music and other media over the years, but it will come as a surprise to many that in most cases, the music collection doesn’t belong to the individual, it is only licensed to them for their lifetime and can’t be passed on in a will.
So, take a look at your current will, and ask yourself if your executors would know where to find everything if you died suddenly. If not, make a list of all online accounts and clear instructions about what you would like to happen to your online presence in the event of your death.
David Hill is a Chartered Financial Planner and Trust and Estate Practitioner at Hills Financial Planning, 15 Agnew Street, Larne. He can be contacted on 028 28276814, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.hillsfinancialplanning.co.uk