Michels, Hartung & Miller on Digital Assets

Johan David Michels (Queen Mary University of London, School of Law – Centre for Commercial Law Studies), Sharon Hartung, and Christopher Millard (Queen Mary University of London, School of Law – Centre for Commercial Law Studies) have posted “Digital Assets: A Call To Action” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Digital assets – such as social media accounts, emails, crypto-assets and photographs – are an increasingly important part of people‚Äôs lives. But what happens to these assets when someone dies or is incapacitated? Are families able to access them? The Cloud Legal Project worked with the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners to survey 500+ estate practitioners. The survey asked practitioners about their experiences with clients’ digital assets. We found that there are difficulties involved in obtaining access to digital assets on death or incapacity. These difficulties include a lack of clarity around property rights and a lack of cooperation from cloud service providers. Given the sentimental and monetary value such assets can hold, we believe families deserve better. To resolve these problems, we call for improved legislation, more awareness for both estate practitioners and clients, and better cooperation with cloud service providers.