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Is it possible to include social media followers in my will?


I have a million followers on Instagram. Can I include that in my will?

— Name withheld on request

Digital assets is a broad term that basically includes those assets that are in digital or online format and have a right to use ie basically social media accounts, cryptocurrencies, NFTs or non-fungible tokens, domain names, data saved on servers clouds etc.

With the rise of social media, the manner in which digital assets are disposed of is now a significant topic of discussion. From a legal point of view, digital assets are like any other type of assets and can be passed on to the intended beneficiaries through the succession planning tools.

Any digital assets not specifically mentioned in a will will be considered part of the residuary estate and will pass to whichever beneficiary is entitled to inherit it. The discussion is even more important in the case of monetized social media accounts.

Before taking into account the details of such social media accounts, reference should be made to the basic terms and conditions associated with such assets. For example, the social media accounts are not technically owned but licensed to the user and technically cannot be passed on by will. Whereas licensed digital assets such as a web domain name could be passed on through a will.

It is advisable to have clear instructions in the will regarding your intention about what should be done with the social media accounts. Some people may prefer to have their social media accounts remembered (Instagram offers this option) while others may prefer to have their social media accounts deleted/destroyed due to financial/security risks involved with exercise. In addition, this will ensure that the executor (a legal representative appointed in the will to carry out the instructions contained in the will) will only have access to your digital assets to the extent necessary and that the right to data privacy is respected. In addition, it may be worth exploring the appointment of a special executor, who has the technological savvy and business experience to deal with digital assets.

Also, since a will may eventually become a public document due to the probate requirement, care should be taken when stating confidential login information. To address the issue of sensitivity, the express login credentials may be captured in a separate document, to which reference should be made in the will.

Additionally, due to the high turnover in online account creation, updates and deletions, it is important to revisit the inventory of digital assets on a regular basis.

As the subject of managing one’s digital footprint is in its infancy and the regulatory environment is ever-changing, it is imperative that due consideration be given to the subject of the inclusion and proper disposition of digital assets by will .

Rohit Jain is the managing partner and Keshav Singhania is the Private Client at Singhania & Co.

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Updated: 20 June 2023, 10:59 PM IST

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