The essential will in the digital age

Living in a digital world of passwords and online accounts may cause one some minor stress, but having to cope with the loss of a loved one and to unravel his or her password to unlock online accounts should be avoided at all cost!

A family Netflix account which is linked to the deceased spouse’s password protected account may be extra costly to access if it involves the surviving spouse having to incur carrier charges on phone calls overseas to get a transfer from the main subscriber to the spouse or family member. Dealing with companies controlling such digital assets can cause extreme stress for those going through bereavement, and the variation in the corporate policies and rules governing access on a death adds on the confusion.

Drawing from the United Kingdom case of one Rachel Thompson against Apple Inc. where Ms Thompson had to legally compel Apple to allow her to access her estranged husband’s online account so that she could retrieve precious family photos.

It is unfortunate that the Thompson case sets no legal precedent or definition of “digital assets” in United Kingdom. One may generally take it to include email accounts, social media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), Apple iCloud storage. Financial digital assets may include PayPal, cryptocurrencies and online bank accounts.

A little close to home, Malaysia, being a commonwealth country has its legal system rooted in the UK. Thus, UK legal precedents have a very persuasive effect on Malaysian courts.

The onset of Bank centralisation and progressive implementation of online bank accounts and its electronic access can be overwhelming to the elderly or middle age customer group. And it is this group that should be most concerned about planning their legacy for their loved ones to access.

A practical measure would be to leave a good old fashion hardcopy of all online access username and passwords. However this is but a temporary resolution as online accounts daily transfer or withdrawal sum is usually limited.

A permanent solution lies in a properly drawn up Will and its supporting practical measures, then the wait to access Bank accounts can be shorten considerably to enable the surviving spouse or family to release cash flow essential to execute a deceased estate.

We at HERITANCE WILLS consider it imperative to protect your digital assets
against a lock down which may result in a delay in execution of your estate.



How to ensure your digital assets can be accessed on your demise? 

How to create wills or legal instruments with the correct legal terms to access
online assets and smoothen distribution of your estate?


Take the first step towards your peace of mind.

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About the author

Ms. Kim Khoo

P.J.K, C.L.P., LL.B (Hons) London
Principal Legal Consultant