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Digital Assets Search for private client solicitors hits the market

Key legal technology provider Estatesearch has launched a new Digital Assets Search for private client solicitors to help support them in extending their estate administration processes to online accounts.

The Digital Assets Search went live in testing phase at the beginning of June and is now available to order alongside Estatesearch’s Financial Profile Searches, extending enquiries to an additional 64 institutions and online service providers in the digital space.

Ben Furlong, Customer Services Director, Estatesearch confirms:

“Digital assets can be of sentimental value such as photographs held in a Facebook account or, be of significant financial value to beneficiaries. They could also be considered a debt; subscription services for example, will need to be cancelled to ensure that payments aren’t carried forward post death.”

Assets might also include the balance of a PayPal account, funds in an online marketplace account, or crypto tokens in a digital wallet. In 2021, according to the FCA, 2.3 million UK adults owned Cryptocurrency with a significant portion of these (19%) holding more than £10,000 in crypto assets.  Estimates show these numbers may have doubled since then, so some of these digitally held assets could be of significant value.

“Much of our work is about supporting clients in identifying the full extent of a person’s estate, in bereavement or loss of mental capacity cases.  However, digital assets are a rapidly evolving area and the challenges of identification are only set to increase in the future as our society’s reliance on online interactions grows. One issue is that digital is a largely unregulated space but we can now help private client solicitors ensure due diligence obligations have been met by undertaking enquiries on their behalf, allowing them to demonstrate that they have done everything possible to identity the full extent of the estate for their clients.”

Estatesearch’s new Digital Assets Search covers: Cryptocurrency exchanges including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other leading cryptocurrencies; Email & Social Media accounts; Website Domain Registries; online gambling providers; Money transfer platforms and online marketplaces such as Paypal and Etsy.

In addition, Estatesearch aims to help practitioners understand the importance of considering Digital Assets in estate administration. The on-demand webinar series covering “What happens to digital assets when we die”, covers the current law in relation to ownership of digital assets, which is a complex and evolving topic.

Estatesearch has also launched a free Digital Assets in Death Guide which looks at how to deal with the social media, email accounts and subscription services of the deceased. Furlong explains:

“Most people have a digital footprint, and this should all be dealt with as part of the deceased’s estate. After identifying an online account, Solicitors can help clients to understand the best course of action, whether that is closing or archiving the account, or in the case of some social media platforms, to memorialise their relation’s social profile. This free guide, which is available from Estatesearch on request, outlines the steps that can be taken to ensure Digital Assets are dealt with properly.

Asset and liability searches are just one aspect of our work. Our goal is to support clients in probate matters to make the process as smooth as possible at what can be a difficult time,” continues Furlong.  “We also offer a range of additional services including: Trustee Notices, Will Searches, Overseas & UK Bankruptcy Searches, Unoccupied Property Insurance, Early Distribution Insurance and Share Valuations.   With no registration or subscription fees, our customers simply pay for the disbursements they need, when they need them.”

To access Estatesearch’s webinar series on ‘What Happens to Digital Assets When We Die’ visit https://www.estatesearch.co.uk/webinars-on-demand/

To receive a copy of Estatesearch’s free Digital Assets in Death Guide, please email helpdesk@estatesearch.co.uk

For further information please visit: https://www.estatesearch.co.uk/services/digital-assets-search/

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