One in ten leave Facebook password in will

The rise of digital possessions is leading to the bequeathing of passwords

October 14, 2011

Along with property and cash, it appears that many are now receiving internet passwords in the wills of loved ones who have passed on.

Apparently one in ten are likely to put passwords to sites such as Facebook and iCloud in their will as more and more of our lives are stored in the cloud. And without password access to a site there is a risk that gigabytes of pictures and videos could be lost.

But it is not just sentimentally valuable data such as family photos which is being stored on sites such as Flickr. According to a survey conducted by Goldsmiths University the value of possessions stored in the internet is soaring.

Currently it is thought that there is data to the value of £2 billion stored online. And it is said that over a quarter of us in the UK have stored hundreds of pounds worth of films, videos and music in the cloud according to cloud researchers RackSpace.

A third of those with online valuables reckon that they are worthy to be passed onto their next of kin.

So solicitors are now being tasked with keeping hold of passwords separately to ensure they are kept safe. According to Sky News the client makes the will and then leaves it with the solicitor.

“Then the passwords are kept separately,” a Rackspace spokesperson said. “So, once the details of the will are sorted out, the beneficiaries will be given the password(s) they need.”

This all means a major change to the way wills have been drawn up in the past. One solicitor Matthew Strain told Sky News: “With more photos, books, music and so on being stored online and in digital format, the question of what happens to these when people are gone becomes more important every day.”

“We have started to advise clients on the topic of digital inheritance as it is something people should be thinking, and doing something about as part of the provisions in their will.”

“Making provisions for digital inheritance in a will or codicil is relatively straightforward.”

It also raises the interesting question of what happens to our profiles and data after we die. For example it is notoriously difficult to commit hari kiri on one’s Facebook account.

But according to the Telegraph EU officials are currently working on legislation to establish a “right to be forgotten”.


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