Digital Legacies' Lost as People Omit Passwords

Inheritances worth millions of pounds are being lost as people forget to record the passwords of "digital assets" like iTunes libraries in their wills, experts say.

Commissioned by Remember a Charity, the new study entitled 'Dying in a Digital Age' found that 80 per cent of people own digital assets, but only nine per cent have thought about passing them on when they die.

Remember a Charity director Rob Cope said: "Bank accounts, music and photograph collections are increasingly stored online. This report shows that we should all take a moment to think about our own digital footprint and who we'll pass it on to."

The study, which polled 2,000 people, found that:

- Over half of respondents (56 per cent) said they have a digital music collection, with 45 per cent valuing it at over £100 and 10 per cent at over £1,000.

- A third of people own smartphone apps (34 per cent) with 20 per cent saying their collections are worth over £100.

- The over 55s value their digital assets more highly than any other age group, according to the report, with 83 per cent saying they have strong sentimental value and 89 per cent financial value.

Wendy Moncur, a computer scientist who is doing research into digital legacies, said: "This is an area that most people simply haven't considered. Yet there are enormous implications. The bereaved may find that they cannot access important online possessions that belonged to the deceased. Aside from the financial value, there is ever-increasing sentimental value in people's online possessions. For example, photos were traditionally kept in albums, but more and more are now stored online."

To help people plan how to pass on their digital assets, Remember a Charity has produced a checklist that can be downloaded from its web site.

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