I have written before about who receives your password if you pass away, but I have recently read about new services that are available which take the concept of a virtual legacy to a whole other level.
There are companies which offer clients the opportunity to name an “Executor” of their virtual presence, who can access their account information and undertake specified tasks after the client passes away. Some of these services store the information in a “virtual vault” that only the Executor can access.
Another service will send personalised messages from the client to loved ones after they pass away. Distribution of the message is automated when the client does not reply to regular prompts for a password for a pre-determined length of time. There are also numerous online memorial page services available for your loved ones to write messages once you have passed away.
The most interesting and revolutionary concept I have come across recently involves the client’s social media, photos, location, e-mails and other information being stored with a company, which the client can then modify and shape into a virtual persona. It even comes with a 3D talking avatar of the client. As with other services, the client creates a list of loved ones who will be contacted upon their passing, and those loved ones will be provided with access to the client’s bank of information. The company encourages its clients to spend time making their avatar resemble them as much as possible, so that it will look and sound like the client, even down to using the client’s vocabulary.
While it is logistically easier and more practical for the Executor of your Estate to be aware of which banks hold your accounts, which funds hold your superannuation and perhaps what your Facebook and LinkedIn passwords are, a properly formed and implemented Estate plan is much more beneficial to the administration of your Estate after you have passed away than a virtual persona.
Although there have been a number of recent cases of informal Wills made on iPhones and computers, I would never recommend that a client relies on an informal Will or a virtual legacy instead of a correctly drafted and executed Will. I will be interested to see if a virtual persona is ever used to grant Probate to an Executor, but even the applying for the Court to make such an order would be a great cost to your Estate.
If you have any queries about your Estate plan or making a Will, please contact me.