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Navigating the Digital Afterlife: The Importance of a Digital Legacy

Rachel Barnes, Marketing & Onboarding Manager
Estimated read time: 2 Minutes

Navigating the Digital Afterlife: The Importance of a Digital Legacy

In a world dominated by all things digital, do we ever stop to wonder what happens to all our online accounts when we die? How do surviving family members navigate gaining access to bank accounts, utility bills, pensions, social media accounts? The list can be endless. The need for effective posthumous access to a deceased spouse’s online accounts has become increasingly crucial, and it is vital to put in place a digital legacy to address the complexities of managing someone’s digital presence after death.

The Digital Footprint

In today’s world, individuals leave behind a vast digital footprint encompassing social media profiles, online banking, utility accounts, and more. Accessing and managing these accounts posthumously can be a daunting task, especially when dealing with sensitive information and legal constraints.

Bridging the Digital Divide

It is important to think about how your digital footprint will be dealt with on death or mental incapacity.

Online bank accounts, utility bills, and pensions can be dealt with relatively simply on death or mental incapacity. However, access to social media profiles, photos, books, music, blogs, to name a few take a lot more effort and work to deal with.

Unfortunately, this additional effort and work can mean in some instances taking positive steps with each digital institution to appoint someone to provide instructions. The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (“STEP”) has now launched its Digital Legacy Scorecard. The Scorecard sets out basic criteria that digital institutions should provide to its users. Using this Scorecard, STEP has begun to rank various digital institutions as either bronze, silver or gold whilst providing useful information to users as to how that particular institution deals with accounts on death or incapacity. You can find the Scorecard here.

The Role of Estate Planning

Integrating digital assets into estate planning is becoming increasingly essential. Individuals are encouraged to include specific instructions regarding their digital presence in their wills, designating trusted individuals to handle their online accounts responsibly.


As our lives become more intertwined with the digital realm, addressing the complexities of managing a loved one’s digital afterlife becomes imperative. By recognising the significance of digital legacies and taking proactive steps, individuals can ensure that their loved ones have the necessary tools to navigate the intricate landscape of the digital afterlife.

For further advice on integrating your digital assets into your estate planning, contact Samantha Downs, Wills, Trusts & Probate Partner on or find out more at

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