Digital Assets: A Call To Action

39 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2021

See all articles by Johan David Michels

Johan David Michels

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law - Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Sharon Hartung

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Christopher Millard

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law - Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Date Written: September 21, 2021

Abstract

Digital assets - such as social media accounts, emails, crypto-assets and photographs - are an increasingly important part of people’s lives. But what happens to these assets when someone dies or is incapacitated? Are families able to access them? The Cloud Legal Project worked with the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners to survey 500+ estate practitioners. The survey asked practitioners about their experiences with clients' digital assets. We found that there are difficulties involved in obtaining access to digital assets on death or incapacity. These difficulties include a lack of clarity around property rights and a lack of cooperation from cloud service providers. Given the sentimental and monetary value such assets can hold, we believe families deserve better. To resolve these problems, we call for improved legislation, more awareness for both estate practitioners and clients, and better cooperation with cloud service providers.

Keywords: Digital Assets, Property Law, Cloud Computing, Cloud Services, Customer Data, Information Ownership, Possession, Succession, Estates

JEL Classification: K1, K11, K36, O33, O34, P14

Suggested Citation

Michels, Johan David and Hartung, Sharon and Millard, Christopher, Digital Assets: A Call To Action (September 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3925439 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3925439

Johan David Michels (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law - Centre for Commercial Law Studies ( email )

67-69 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3JB
United Kingdom

Sharon Hartung

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Christopher Millard

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law - Centre for Commercial Law Studies ( email )

67-69 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London, EC2A 3JB
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.qmul.ac.uk/staff/millard.html

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