Is the internet putting your inheritance at risk?

August 6, 2019

Enable’s IFAs in Bishop’s Stortford understand how useful the digital world is but is the internet putting your inheritance at risk? Some lawyers believe it might be and are warning our money could be lost forever because of family secrecy and outdated laws.

inheritance tax

The Money Advice Service estimates that there’s £850 million lying unclaimed in lost bank accounts, so much so that the Government took out £330 million last year to spend on good causes. The amount of unclaimed money about to spiral is in part due to missing ‘digital legacies’ says Lawyer Lesley Davis as it makes it harder to find out what recently deceased people owned.

In this digital age, it’s possible to do all your banking and investing online and have almost no physical documents. That’s before you start to consider cryptocurrency wallets, gambling accounts. “If you die and you didn’t physically identify an asset, how do you know your loved one will receive it?” says Davis.

The 1990 Computer Misuse Act also makes things complicated – it illegal to access someone else’s digital information unless you’ve been permitted in advance of death. Having worked so hard and saved well it is important to make sure your inheritance is not a risk.

One of the most important things you can do is to make a will. In your will take care with the details and the wording, “leaving a beneficiary your Barclays account won’t work if you later switched to Santander, “says Davis. You should also draw up an assets register or list of your accounts and keep this in hardcopy with your will. It is worth updating this, checking if any passwords have changed or new accounts have been set up say once a year updating your hard copy records as well as your digital records. Enable’s IFAs also know it can pay to arrange for a Lasting Power of Attorney well before you need it.

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