What happens to your digital property after you die?

What happens to your digital property after you die? 

Most of your digital assets, what we might call property, don’t actually belong to you and can’t be passed on after you die. Here’s a look at the kinds of digital property you’re likely to have accumulated throughout your life that you won’t be able to pass on in your Will. 

The personal digital property you own

Whether you need to get the lowdown on what kind of digital property you might own, or you’re wondering what to do with that online photography portfolio you’ve been hoarding in cloud-based storage, here’s where to start.

1. Hardware

This includes all your tangible stuff, such as your computer, laptop, tablet, Kindle, smartphone and any external hard drives. They’re technically considered your digital property because they contain digital information about, that you’ve created or that you’ve bought.

Your hardware digital property includes:

  • Computers, including the hard drive and its contents
  • Tablet and its contents
  • Smartphone and mobile phones, including call history, text history, photos, location data, and other contents
  • E-reader, including Kindles, and the books or files it contains

2. Files and data

Now you can move on to the stuff that isn’t so easily graspable or breakable. Any information you store electronically – whether on cloud-based storage, online storage or on a physical device – is your digital property.

This can range from messages and emails to last year’s holiday snaps, all stored online. Gone are the days of stacks of photo albums behind the sofa (unless those days aren’t gone – read our article on transferring physical files to digital ones here. 

You’ll find these saved on your computer somewhere, on your phone, a flash drive, USB stick or in the cloud.

3. Online accounts

Don’t forget your online accounts – there’s guaranteed to be quite a few of them. This includes all email accounts, social media accounts, photo and video sharing accounts, gaming accounts, online storage accounts, and online banking or utilities’ accounts.

Can’t remember all of your myriad accounts? We’ve written an article on how to manage online accounts after someone dies here.  

4. Intellectual property

Your digital property doesn’t have to be a thesis on the trajectory of the half-life of subatomic particles to be intellectual. Instead, intellectual property simply refers to creations and inventions that aren’t, say, a bookshelf – they’re formed in your head. These are usually copyrighted materials, trademarks and patents.

Intellectual property includes all the stuff you’ve created, such as:

  • Websites or blogs that generate revenue for you
  • Any art, photos, music or eBooks that are stored or have found a home online

5. Domain names 

Many people own domain names, whether as an investment strategy or for sites that are live.

In any case, if you own any domain names those count as your digital property, and will likely have some monetary value. Think about whether or not you want to sell them on before you die.

Find out more

At DEATH.io we want to get you thinking about your digital death, including where your data is going to end up, and how to stop your online personality being the one you’re remembered by (all that drunk tweeting might come back to taint your legacy).

Read our article on what your digital death legacy is made up of and how to reclaim some of it.

Read our article on how the NHS uses data to stop deaths

And what you can do with someone’s social media accounts after they die

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