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 Digital Eye

I recently had an enquiry from a Mind at Rest Wills client regarding the best way to approach storing and preserving a single digital file that was only to be opened by one nominated person in the event of their death. Hence the name of this post.

Now because the file in question was in digital format, it soon became very clear that a standard real-world Will, would not do the job and different areas needed to be explored in order to meet my client’s needs.

If you are in a similar situation whether you want to store and protect a single digital document or protect the many online accounts that you have accrued such as Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, as you can imagine the list of such accounts and therefore legacies you are building online are endless.

When considering storing files and passwords in your own digital media format and referring to them as a legacy in a standard Will, think carefully!

Even if the digital information you are trying to protect is not for one person’s eyes only, the main problem you are facing is that as you may already be aware, digital storage formats have changed significantly in recent years and will continue to do so.

There could be a risk that storing the file on disc or memory stick etc. would be unusable in the future.

You would also need a secure storage place to avoid loss through fire & theft, perhaps a bank safety deposit box, the potential problem with this is that company’s like Barclay’s, HSBC etc. are now phasing out bank safety deposit boxes because they are considered too expensive to run.

With a standard Will, You would normally need a minimum of 2 executors, both of which would, therefore, have knowledge of the file so you could not guarantee it would only be accessed by the one person.

The other problem with trying to use a standard will to take care of digital assets is linked to the area of legal jurisdiction.

For example, a will that is to be valid in England and Wales is written differently to one that is required in Scotland. In much the same way that a will in the UK would not be able to cover overseas assets such as property.

In this instance, you would normally have to have a Will written in the country that your assets are held in.

When we talk about digital assets such as those mentioned above the area of jurisdiction is the world wide web so wouldn’t it naturally make sense to manage these legacies from the web itself by using a Digital Will.

You could protect your digital files with the likes of Dropbox etc, but I do not consider these secure environments for the longer term and they do not provide the facility to nominate a digital guardian.

In my opinion you would be best to store it online with a digital legacy company like Cirrus legacy, this is because companies like Cirrus provide guarantees that your data will be stored permanently in a safe and secure way and allow you to nominate a digital guardian who would be the only other person apart from you who could access the data in the event of your death.

To quote their website ” they adhere to the highest published government standards, with all communications secured with optimal levels of encryption, and their website is scanned frequently for vulnerability. Your digital legacy data is held and backed up in multiple secure data centres.”

My client was able to secure a lifetime membership and on top of this can store files securely up to 100mb they also allow you to store sensitive data for all your online accounts so over time you would get more payback as your digital assets increase.

Cost Comparison

Cost wise there’s not a lot of difference between the cost of a standard single Will at £95 and the Cirrus legacy product which retails at £150. We were able to bring the cost down further by becoming a certified Cirrus Legacy partner. I was able to negotiate a discount code for my clients that brings the cost down to £90 and therefore cheaper than the standard will option.

Related Links

Making A Will Online 
Digital Wills
Managing Your Digital Legacy