Wills and digital legacies

Planning for the future can give you and your family peace of mind.

You'll find information here about Wills, legacies, and managing online accounts and ways that you can let those closest to you know your wishes.


If you've been diagnosed with cancer (whether you have been told it is curable or not), you may be thinking about what might happen to others close to you if you died. 

You may worry if they would be financially stable if you’re not here, and how they might know your wishes.

It can give peace of mind to have a Will in place, so that practical and financial matters are in order. 

Also, in this digital age, many business, financial and social accounts are dealt with online. This means that that when someone dies, there may be multiple online accounts to close down. 

If you are a friend or family member, of someone who is unable to manage their accounts or who has died, you may be wondering how to close or access their online accounts and social media.

Why make a will?

You may wonder why you should make a will. According to a recent survey, over 60% of adults  in the UK don’t have a will. 

If you were to die intestate (without making a will),  your estate (the legal term for everything you own) would be divided up according to strict rules and you may find  it isn’t to whom you would expect. This can be complex and your family or friends will probably face additional stress and large legal bills, at a difficult time. 

The possibility of dying  can be very difficult to think about,  it’s normal to avoid it  and delay writing wills or organising paperwork . The thought of making a will or ‘sorting out your affairs’ can, especially following a diagnosis seem as if you are in some way ‘giving in’, and not being positive about your prognosis. 

However, making a will can reassure you that any dependants will be looked after. This allows you to focus on your treatment and spending quality time with those you care about.

It is possible to make a will yourself. However, to ensure that it is legally correct, it is best to discuss it with a solicitor who can advise you. This needn't be expensive and you can be reassured that the document will be legally binding. Maggie’s Centres offer workshops and offering advice on will writing and legacies. There is also a booklet explaining what is involved.

Advance care planning and power of attorney

You may also worry about your treatment, care and managing your finances if you become unable to express your wishes. For example, you may have particular thoughts about how your care would be managed.

This might include where you are cared for, particularly in your final days, and any decisions about how your care is managed. You can decide who the doctors and nurses should talk to about your care, if you’re unable to let them know yourself. This is called advance care planning (anticipatory care planning, in Scotland).

Likewise, you may want to appoint someone to speak out for you and manage your financial affairs if you are no longer able to do so. You can register this person or persons to act as your attorney. Your wishes would need to be registered in a document called ‘Power of Attorney’. People often choose their spouse, partner, family member or close friend. They can then speak out, and act, on your behalf.

Digital accounts

In addition, in this modern age of online business, personal and social media accounts, there may be considerable 'tidying up' to be done once you’re no longer here.

Closing down your digital presence (facebook, social media, etc) , and online accounts, after your death, may not be a palatable thought.

However, it does make life easier for families if all the information is one place. We have added helpful links to a number of websites below with information about making this process easier.

Letting others know

Family members may find it difficult to talk about what might happen if you die. However, by letting them know your wishes, you can help ease their concerns about managing in the future. 

Let them know where important documents are kept, and keep the documents safe in one place. 

Meanwhile, if you are a friend or family member, and have concerns about the future, it will help you if you know the person with cancer’s wishes. 

Knowing where key documents are kept, can help you practically. Having conversations about these matters may feel painful to you, but can be helpful for both of you.

What now?

Thinking about wills and legacies can raise many challenging emotions and questions  for you and also others in your family. It can help to talk things over with someone who isn’t directly involved. You are welcome to drop into a Maggie's centre individually or together. You don’t need an appointment and everything is free.

Have a browse through the suggested blogs and links on this page.

Last review: Dec 2021 | Next review: Dec 2022

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