The Hilton London Bankside hotel was the venue for a conference that I attended this week organised by STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). The hotel is near to the Shard and the Tate Modern, but more appealing to me to visit was the Crossbones Graveyard, however it’s opening times did not align with mine, so I will have to visit on another occasion.
I was booked in for the Digital Assets special interest group. The presentations and panel discussions helped to identify the various situations around the world that are shaping the future of wills. It has long been recognised by Social Embers and other organisations that digital assets need to be incorporated into estate management, but it is clear that bringing worldwide experts together to share experiences and individual case situations, will be helpful to those advising clients. As legislation varies in different countries, having a worldwide working group means that examples and ideas can be shared, allowing the development of inheritance laws to evolve as technology does.
Kimberly Martin, had travelled from Tasmania to be at the conference, and delivered a very informative presentation that explained how technology was responsible for a huge change in formal requirements for legal transactions. She gave examples of different forms of digital records that had been submitted to probate. Mary Ambrose, reminded us of the caution needed when using another person’s password, whilst often tempting, is contravening most e-mail providers terms and conditions.
James Norris, who is the founder of the Digital Legacy Association in the UK spoke about some of the more emotional aspects of digital assets and introduced the delegates to My Wishes a free digital writing service that he has developed. Tracey Woo from Canada, spoke about the practical challenges of identifying digital assets when there is no pre-recorded inventory. She identified a need for training and education within trust and estate management, which should include technical support.
Jennifer Zegel’s knowledge of cryptocurrency inheritance and administration was demonstrated by case studies, and she gave advice for best practice guidelines when administering digital estates. Dave Michels spoke about his research at Queen Mary University of London into cloud based services. His research has identified that seventy five percent of these services have not addressed the issue of death. Betsy Ehrenberg and Lee Pozkanzer both mentioned the increase of posthumous identity theft.
I am unable to acknowledge all of the presenters and their excellent research in this short blog post, but I did find it all very positive and reassuring that the advice I have been giving to clients of Social Embers is accurate and up to date, and that it will continue to be the best it can now that I am an affiliate member of STEP.
As I am based in Dorchester in Dorset, if you would like to become more informed in this topic, then please contact me via the Social Embers website where you will find a contact form, or sign up to receive our monthly newsletter below.