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BLOG: How to engage your partner with your digital legacy plans

BLOG: How to engage your partner with your digital legacy plans
Your Money
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Your Money

Digitisation has impacted essentially every aspect of our lives – from the way in which we communicate with one another, to how we work and of course, how we manage our finances and access our money.

While this brings about a multitude of benefits, one thing that is markedly different is the lack of a paper trail to trace back to important documentation which we might need in the future.

It’s now more important than ever that people consider their digital legacy and make an action plan for passing down important information, in the event of their death or incapacitation.

Death is often a difficult topic for many to discuss and often, we see people avoid or delay having these conversations as a result. In fact, our research shows that a third of people haven’t spoken to their spouse/partner about what should happen with their finances in the event of their death.

Looking specifically at our digital footprint, seven out of ten people who are married or in a civil partnership haven’t considered their digital life as part of their marital affairs – meaning loved ones could find themselves scrambling to search for details of various online accounts following their partner’s death, making an already difficult time even more stressful.

While it’s never pleasant to think about, there are simple steps people can take to ensure their loved ones have all the information they need in regards to their digital life, should the worst happen.

Planning with a partner – passing down your digital legacy safely

The first thing you can do to prepare your spouse or partner in the event of your death or incapacitation is ensuring you both have a will, and that this is updated following any notable changes to your personal circumstances.

The purpose of a will is to outline your wishes following your death and give clear direction to your trusted executors to avoid any potential disputes that may arise after you’re gone.

A fifth of people who have a will mention their digital life, so you may wish to include important information which your significant other may need here.

Alternatively, more than four in ten of those who have a financial adviser opt to have them manage their digital legacy. If this is the case for you, it’s important your partner has contact details for your financial adviser – and vice versa – so they know who to contact for any questions regarding your digital life, in the event of your death or incapacitation.

While having a will is highly useful, this shouldn’t be the only place you speak about how you want your wealth to be shared. It’s incredibly worthwhile to foster an open and honest conversation with your partner – and other close members of family – on how you want your wealth divided up following your death, so you can ensure you’re all on the same page, and your wishes are understood.

As part of this, it’s worth spending some time tracking down all your financial documentation and keeping this in one designated place. This also includes making sure you have a list of all your digital accounts e.g., bank accounts, social media platforms.

Tell your partner where they can find these details, should they need to access this information and close down your online accounts where necessary.

Some may also wish to establish their partner as their certified lasting power of attorney to make decisions on your behalf, should they lose the mental capacity to do so themselves. Having this assigned from the outset can be helpful for some in making an already vulnerable time less stressful.

While it’s never easy to talk about death – or even finances – having a clear and actionable plan to passing down your digital legacy is immensely important.

You don’t have to tackle this alone, and you may find it helpful to speak with a financial adviser who can advise both you and your partner through your respective digital legacy plans, to ensure you have all the information you may need to protect your loved ones in a time of vulnerability.

Eddie Grant is director at St. James’s Place