The world is going digital – is it time to review your Will and LPA’s?
COVID-19 has forced much of the world to adopt new ways of working, communicating and interacting, and it is no different for the legal industry, now making big leaps towards digitalisation of its services. With a rise in ownership of valuable digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, now is the time to review your Will and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Quite understandably the global pandemic has led many people to prepare or review their Wills. In response to this need, coupled with social restrictions, the past year has seen developments in the law which allow Wills to be drawn up and executed via digital means.
An individual can now complete the entire Will preparation process remotely. From discussing their requirements with their solicitor over video call and receiving drafts of the documents via email, to remotely executing the Will with their witnesses, making a Will has never been more accessible.
Whilst these changes represent a step towards the convenience of digitalisation, there are strict requirements for remote witnessing in order to protect the validity of such an important document. If a Will is to be remotely witnessed, legal advice should be taken to ensure the Will is drafted to be capable of being executed in this way and that the process is properly followed
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s)
Arguably as important as Wills, if not more so, LPA’s have typically required at least one face to face meeting with your solicitor in order for them to provide the necessary certificate of mental capacity confirming the individual’s ability to create the LPA. Although a face to face meeting is still recommended, it is now possible to conduct this meeting remotely via telephone or video call.
It is crucial to remember that LPAs still require a “wet” signature by each of the parties and their witnesses must be physically present too, which means the process cannot be completed entirely remotely.
Digital assets will include everything from social media accounts, photos, and cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. In recent research carried out by the Law Society, it was found that 93% of those people with Wills had not included provisions for their digital assets. Even fewer give express access to digital assets in their LPA’s. These possessions are often as treasured as our physical belongings and can be just as valuable, but are commonly being overlooked.
In the case of cryptocurrency there is the added complication of gaining access to the individual’s digital wallet, which will be secured with passwords or PIN numbers. This can prevent executors or attorneys from managing the asset when the individual dies or loses mental capacity.
To prepare for these issues it is advisable to put together a document detailing the following:
- A list of your digital assets and a breakdown of each cryptocurrency you own
- All PIN numbers and passwords related to your digital assets
- A step by step guide of how to access your digital assets
The location of this document, or the document itself, should be stored with your Will and made known to your attorneys. Without this information there is a risk that your digital assets could become lost or inaccessible forever.
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