You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox

If you’re an active internet user you’ve probably heard of the term ‘digital legacy’ or ‘virtual property’ before. You may have even wondered what happens to all of your online accounts if you pass away.

And if you’re reading this blog, it means you’re part of the 65% of Australian internet users who are engaged some form of social media. Over the last 10 years, we’ve grown our digital self from a couple of free online emails to a plethora of social networks and other accounts, each with varying purposes.

There’s no doubt that social media and how we operate online is having a big impact on our lives. It’s playing a more prominent role in day-to-day communications and information storage than in the past, making it important that people considered their digital legacy.

Over the last decade we have seen the continued rise of social media and steady growth of what you could call ‘virtual assets’. We now have a generation of people who are accustomed to buying their music online and my generation, who grew up with record shops, are increasingly turning to the web as well. Today, people are spending thousands of dollars and many more hours accumulating and creating online – not surprisingly, they don’t want it all this lost.

For this reason, Slater and Gordon have updated all Wills services to allow for social media and virtual property provisions which will mean succession plans include instructions for digital selves, making it easier for family to keep or shut down any accounts.

Wills have always been documents that speak volumes about the age in which they were drafted, providing a unique insight into what was valued and how people lived their lives. In his Will Shakespeare left his second-best bed to his wife, while Benjamin Frankin’s last wish was that ‘his daughter not engage in “the expensive, vain and useless pastime of wearing jewels.”

In the past we’ve treasured and archived personal material such as letters and diaries, but these forms of communication have largely been replaced by social media.

The way we are filing, storing, collecting and communicating is changing.

Many Australians now store an enormous amount of their creative output online and some may want those accounts shut down when they die, while others may want them memorialised.

Think about who will have possession of your smart phone, computer, tablets, and other devices that store your photos, passwords and account information for all of those apps that help diarise your life (and food). Now you can leave instructions for the future of those accounts in a will.

Social media platforms will only ask for proof of death, so a certificate will be enough to close an account down or memorialise it.

It’s also important to remember that social media platforms are all regulated by their own unique terms and conditions, which will frequently include policies for deceased users’ accounts.

We weren’t thinking about this issue five or 10 years ago, but as the number of users who create some form of social media account continues to grow, it’s important to plan what happens to those accounts.

Tips on how to protect your digital legacy

  • Review the ‘deceased user’ policies of each social media and email platform you use
  • Plan how you want each account dealt with once you pass away
  • See a legal expert to prepare a Will which includes instructions on how you want your digital profiles dealt with
  • Don’t limit your wishes to specific current social media platforms

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

How is your claim being progressed during COVID-19?

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on how we do many things. It has changed how many of us work, socialise and interact with one another. You might be wondering how has the pandemic affected the legal industry? And how is your compensation claim being progressed during this time? You’ll be pleased to know that Slater and Gordon and the wider legal community are working hard to try to minimise the impact to your claim. This article lists some of the ways we’re continuing to move your claim forward during lockdown in Victoria. This will depend on where your matter is being heard. The Victorian County and Supreme Courts converted to remote hearings and adapted to digital processes...

Woman video conferencing
Slater and Gordon welcome Labor’s Wage Theft Tribunal

In September the Federal Circuit Court fined the director of a cleaning business for underpaying three vulnerable South Korean migrant workers by $10,000. If the director had stolen $10,000, he would have faced years in prison. Because it's ‘only wage theft’, he got a fine. For the cleaners missing out, it doesn’t feel that different. Wage theft is rampant in Australia. UNSW has identified over $1 billion in stolen wages across our economy. Yet the Fair Work Ombudsman’s annual report suggests that last year it handed out only $7.2 million in in penalties. For many businesses, they do the maths and decide it’s a risk they are willing to take. That’s why Labor’s announcement...

Federal Court Australia   Blog Upload
What is the role of a legal assistant?

Have you ever called your lawyers office, only to be greeted by their legal assistant? Whilst at times considered a gate-keeper to the lawyer, the role of a legal assistant is a critical part of your case, working closely with your lawyer to deliver you the best outcome possible. In this article we provide an overview of the role of a legal assistant and what you can expect them to be doing as part of the expert legal team working on your case. In many circumstances, the legal assistant may be the first person from your legal team that you interact with after booking an appointment. Depending on how quickly your appointment occurs, they will likely give you a call to confirm your...

Two People At Desk Reseized Blog

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.