How to stop your assets going to the grave with you

How to stop your assets going to the grave with you

Have you made plans to protect or pass on your digital assets – financial and personal – after you die? If not, you’re in good company. Most Australians don’t know they are at risk of losing all their online chattels if they are killed or incapacitated.

That’s because they could take their secret passwords to the grave, have their assets locked away in perpetuity by social media networks or exhumed by digital grave robbers and sold on to the dark web, an online “netherworld” for trading illegal and stolen goods from identification to drugs and guns.

An estate planning report last year by Charles Sturt University and The University of Adelaide found that of Australians who had digital assets, just over 70 per cent had made no contingency plans for them. “This is a major cause for concern as legislation regarding digital assets and their transferability or access by executors or beneficiaries on death is non-existent in Australia as it is in most jurisdictions,” the report said.

Baby Boomers, who have grown up and old with digital technology, are the richest generation in the nation’s history and will be passing on trillions of dollars in assets over coming decades. There is more than $400 billion worth of property owned by people in their 80s and hundreds of billions of dollars in shares, bank accounts and other assets.

But financial assets such as PayPal accounts, details of share trading accounts and financial institution accounts, bitcoin, photographs, potentially valuable domain names or online businesses could follow their owners into eternity without trace, or ownership pass on to online providers.


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