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22 July 2022
Clive Pointon from Aaron & Partners

It comes after Chester-based firm sees a ‘significant’ rise in enquiries of this type and national poll finds that 57% of people have made no plans for passing on digital possessions

A top Cheshire lawyer is urging people across the region to make plans for their photos, videos and social media accounts as part of a new digital legacy campaign. 

Clive Pointon, Head of Wills, Trust and Tax at legal firm Aaron & Partners, is backing a new campaign to ‘protect your digital memories for future generations’ after seeing a growing number of clients struggle to access the digital assets of loved ones.

The initiative is hoped to increase public awareness of what is a growing problem - providing simple actions people can take to ensure digital possessions are not lost or inaccessible in the event of death of incapacity. 

The Chester-based, Legal 500-ranked law firm has seen an increased number of clients experiencing difficulties in recent months and years, with the problem only expected to get worse. 

Clive said: “Losing a loved one is already an extremely upsetting situation for family members to deal with. Now, the rise of social media and our lives moving online adds yet another strand to the already complex process of managing an estate. 

“So many of us navigate the online world without considering what will happen to our digital assets once we’re gone.

“For that reason, our team at Aaron & Partners has already experienced a significant rise in this type of inquiry and we have seen first-hand the upset and heartache it can cause.”

The digital campaign has been created by STEP, a global body of lawyers, accountants and trustees helping families plan for their futures, will focus on these three key asks:

  1. Update your legacy settings on Google, Apple, Facebook and other platforms.
  2. Talk to your family and friends about what you want to happen to your digital assets.
  3. Help STEP spread the word and educate more people on the importance of protecting your digital assets for future generations.

As well as the three above steps, the campaign also highlights areas that governments and service providers must address to help families protect their digital assets.

Clive added: “We hope this campaign will help ease the burden slightly for as many people as possible when it comes to managing an estate and digital assets following the loss of a loved one.

“One of the key things people can do is to plan in advance. There can often be a bit of a taboo when it comes to talking about death or planning for what comes next, but it shouldn’t be this way as failing to prepare can have a devastating impact on those that are left behind. We’re fully backing the STEP campaign and hope it will encourage more people to take action.”

According to STEP, a lack of public awareness about what will happen to digital assets on death or incapacity was a key finding in its 2021 report - Digital Assets: A Call to Action. 

The report revealed that a quarter of estate practitioners’ clients had experienced difficulties accessing or transferring digital assets on death or incapacity and that social media, email accounts and cloud storage for photos and documents are most commonly asked about. Ninety per cent of practitioners said they expected client demand for advice about digital assets to increase in future, but close to half of respondents had not prepared to assist clients with digital assets.

Additionally, a recent YouGov poll found 64% of respondents said that what happens to their sentimental digital possessions after they have gone is either important or very important to them, but 57% had made no plans at all for passing on their digital assets. Only 3% of respondents had used the digital legacy tools provided by Google, Apple and others.

For more information, visit STEP’s campaign website here.