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22.9m Britons overlook digital legacy, research reveals

New research has revealed that over two fifths (43%) of Brits – 22.9 million people – admit they have not shared all details of their financial accounts with someone they trust.

St. James’s Place (SJP)’s research found that people’s digital life is often overlooked when thinking about legacy planning. Reasons why Brits haven’t shared details of the financial accounts they hold include:

  • thinking they didn’t need to brief anyone on this (33%)
  • not wanting to share this information (19%)
  • thinking they don’t need to share these details under any circumstances (16%)
  • planning on briefing someone but haven’t gotten round to it yet (14%)
  • not knowing where to start (8%)

Yet, as more financial products and services are being hosted online with less of a paper trail, the need to share details with a trusted individual who may need to access these details. For example, in the event of death or incapacitation, is becoming increasingly important.

“Robust digital hygiene” is one of the reasons why people are holding off addressing their digital legacy. One in ten (10%) people change their passwords so regularly that they say it’s too much work keeping legacy plans up to date.

The research also found that a significant number of people mentally keep track of their passwords and as such have no physical or digital record of them. Two fifths (39%) rely on memory to keep track of online passwords.

For many, personal experiences have prompted them to share details of their financial accounts with a trusted person, which they otherwise may not have considered doing. Nearly one in ten (9%) did so after experiencing a personal loss, while 7% have a medical condition that drove them to share their information.

In addition, a third (32%) have shared their details to ensure their loved ones are as prepared as possible in the event of their death.

Eddie Grant, Director at St. James’s Place commented:

“Our lives have been impacted by the rise of digital technology, and what was once done physically is now being done online, including our financial affairs. There are a multitude of benefits that this brings, with the added convenience and speed to access our finances and manage our money. But with this comes a significantly smaller paper trail and as a result may leave loved ones struggling to search for details to these accounts, some of which they may not even know exist. This can be especially problematic in the event of death or incapacitation.

We don’t often think about legacy planning unless prompted by a personal experience, as our research has shown, but it is important that people consider their digital legacy as part of their financial planning to ensure that our loved ones have all the information that they may need. There can be lots to think about and it can be a difficult and uncomfortable topic, so it’s worth speaking to a financial adviser who can guide you through the process of passing down your digital legacy in a safe way, at your own pace.”

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