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Fundamentals of an E-Will

By Nishant Ahlawat

In my last write up I discussed issues with respect to an individual’s usage of computing devices, internet, technology, valuable /commercial aspect attached to such usage and effect of such individuals death on assets so created. I further inferred and suggested importance of creating an exhaustive ‘E-Will’ defining how and to whom assets so created by an individual user shall be transferred after life time of such a user.
Departing of a loved one is always a very rough time and experience for bereaved family and relations. In absence of a defined structure and mechanism for transfer of rights to the belongings, properties and assets of such an individual, scenario becomes far more painful for such family and relations.
Be it physical property/assets or virtual property, assets, data etc., it is always  advisable for every person who has attained majority to make a will or wills detailing and defining structure and mechanism for handing over of such valuable assets to nominated beneficiary(ies).
While in case of conventional properties it is already an established practice, however for dissemination of virtual properties and assets, it is still a very naïve concept.
Most important aspect for virtual properties, assets and data is the detailing of all such existing properties. Reason for it being so important is the absence of mechanism to identify of lot many of such assets in absence of descriptions. Ideally you may know about popular email account(s), social network profile, twitter handles etc but you may not know the assets/ gaming money  he/ she may have purchased in virtual world gaming, number and amount of money saved in e- wallets,  source code and other such important files saved on clouds.
As stated above and as can be well inferred all such assets are of extremely high valuation to bereaved family member(s) /relations.

Ingredients of and e-will
Once an individual has decided to make an e-will, he/she should firstly list down and detail all of existing accounts, assets, cloud services, software subscriptions, e-wallets etc. and decide on the following lines as that:
a.    Which data that is too personal and individual wishes the same to be destroyed after death?
b.    Which secured data stored on storage devices or clouds to be handed over to which relations and in what manner?
c.    Access to which virtual account be given to whom?
d.    If it is not in conflict of policy and terms of services of service provider can (regularly updated) passwords or reset structure can be kept safe with an attorney/custodian and in contingency of death be shared with beneficiary?
e.    What virtual money, gaming currency capable of being converted in to real money be divided in to what proportion and who will benefit from same?
f.     Also in case of huge data base maintained by such individual, detailing in same or separate/ independent documents about contents of important files stored in such virtual accounts.
The said list is not exhaustive but suggestive of points of consideration at time of drafting of such e-will.
Expert Assistance
Besides, in executing one or more of such wills to testament the distribution of assets and virtual properties, advise and services of an expert cyber law practitioner should be taken into account for streamlining the documents in accordance with after death policies (if they exists) of various service providers and also as per the law of lands and territories whose jurisdictions are involved for execution of the said will.  

For queries, suggestion and feedback contact me on [email protected]


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