ELI Adopts a New Project on Succession of Digital Assets, Data and other Digital Remains


Developed in the context of meetings of the ELI High Level Expert Group on Digital Inheritance, this project was adopted by the ELI Council at its September 2023 meeting.

Succession of Digital Assets, Data and other Digital Remains are increasingly important considerations in succession, estate planning and estate litigation as more people conduct their lives online and accumulate or create valuable digital assets, accounts and data. The digital estate, also known as digital legacy in theory and common law systems, includes digital assets, personal data of the deceased, and potentially other emerging digital remains (eg, the deceased’s avatars in the Metaverse/Extended Reality, their chatbot created using generative AI, etc).

In all these cases – assets, personal data and emerging types of digital remains – legal challenges have arisen. Key challenges include defining and classifying these assets, remains and data; determining who has the legal right to access and manage a person's digital estate after their death; ensuring data security; and protecting the dignity and privacy of the deceased during data transfer to the entitled persons or in another manner. Succession law and other relevant areas such as privacy and data protection, therefore, need to respond to this evolution.

The Project Team aims at drafting model law/rules to harmonise key provisions on the definition of digital remains, access and inheritability, and data protection issues. The project will help define and distinguish different types of assets, remains and personal data, define their inheritability and transmission, as well as examine existing rules on applicable law, jurisdiction, data protection and other relevant areas of law, with a view to ascertaining their suitability for this field, failing which proposals may be put forward. Key target audiences include EU and Member State legislators and governments, courts, legal professionals, technology companies and service providers, professional associations, civil society, and citizens. More information can be found here.

The Project will be led by Prof Dr Antoine Eigenmann and Dr Edina Harbinja and it aims at concluding in October 2025.

All interested ELI Members are invited to join the project’s Members Consultative Committee by sending an email to the ELI Secretariat.