Who will take Charge of your Digital Assets When you Die?

From M-Pesa to Facebook, how do you handle your digital assets?

digital assets, m-pesa, payoneer, paypal

Many people today have online presence. A large number of people use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, while others are more sophisticated and take it a step further by creating their own websites, blogs or even apps. All the mentioned items contain information and are protected by logging codes.

Did you know that numbers of friends or following you have on social networks, and the information you share online could have monetary value? Yes, those pictures you post on instagram or Facebook could be used for marketing purposes. Your followers or friends are valuable as they make a perfect marketing audience. Websites and blogs earn income when they are used by marketing companies to advertise.

Sudden Death

But what happens when the curtains suddenly fall for you? People hardly talk about sudden death and even if they do, they do so in jocular-morbid terms. Let’s be honest, while we don’t like to discuss it, death is inevitable.

Once you are gone, after your relatives have wept their hearts out, eulogize you and say how much they miss you, if you had a will, it will be time for your attorney to read it. This is when your heirs will find out who takes what!

But living in the 21st century, virtually your every important information is hardly found on paper, but on electronic devices. And since lock codes and passwords are not shared with anyone, your digital assets may forever be locked to see the light, unless you had recorded them and kept them safely, or you recorded them in your will.

What are digital assets?

Digital assets are information created and stored in digital form. Such information include your social network accounts, e-books, blogs, e-mails, e-wallets, digital financial and trading accounts, websites and many similar items.

In Kenya I would also include telcos banking services such as M-Pesa and M-Shwari accounts under digital assets as the information remain on the electronic device, in this case the SIM card.

When owners of these digital assets suddenly depart this life, these assets become difficult to access, and thus they may never see the light if there was no an elaborate plan put in place in advance.

Records of digital assets

You need to maintain records of your digital assets, not only for the benefit of your family and heirs, but also for yourself. These details can help you evaluate their total worth.

You need to have detailed instructions on how these assets can be recovered when you pass away. These digital assets can be sold, or continue earning your dependants income while you are gone.

If you don’t, the companies that handle your data will assume that you wanted to maintain privacy and render this information inaccessible because the issues of privacy law reigns even in death. Also in Kenya there is NO law that can help families compel data mining companies to release the deceased’s data or their accounts.

Consider this…

m-pesaIt is a requirement that you have a beneficiary when opening a conventional bank account. Do you have an online account such as PayPal, Skrill or Payoneer? If yes, did these online banking service providers ask you of a beneficiary when creating these accounts?  Or even for the case of M-Pesa, did Safaricom ask you for a beneficiary when you registered your M-Pesa account?

When you die today, will your protégés be able to access the money in your M-Pesa, PayPal, Skrill or Payoneer accounts without drama, or will your money never see the light?

If you care about your digital assets and you wouldn’t want to see them locked forever, get down now and draft all the codes you use to protect your accounts just in case you die in the next hour! Have all your codes on your will or estate plan. Remember, companies protect users’ privacy both in life and death.


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