Why Your Digital Footprint Needs to be Part of Your Will
The online footprint of Canadians is getting deeper every day, from email and Instagram posts to brokerage accounts and bitcoin wallets, yet when it comes to Estate Planning these digital accounts take a back seat to more traditional strategies, such as how best to transfer your family cottage and or whether to have your home in joint tenancy or tenants in common.
In a recent article in the Globe and Mail on retirement planning the Investment Planning Counsel is suggesting that these digital assets tend to be ignored or overlooked, yet they do pose a growing issue. The most obvious one is that of cryptocurrencies with about 1.2 million Canadians holding digital currencies.
However, many of you may have noticed that the pandemic has expanded our digital presence as we engage in virtual communication and more and more e-commerce requiring more accounts and passwords. I personally have over 16 pages with passwords that I retain offline in addition to an online password keeper. The purchase of a new computer this month as exaggerated just how many accounts and passwords I have and how many I need to update on a regular basis.
Based upon our experience with Estate administration, it can be a horrendously difficult job for an Executor to administer an Estate with limited or no access to digital assets. Legislation in Canada has not kept up and this further exacerbates future problems.
Some recommended solutions can include downloading important documents including personal accounts so loved ones can have access. Since the monetary value of digital assets continues to grow, it is now recommended that Executors and individuals with Powers of Attorney should consult not only with financial advisors but also with lawyers to ensure Estate plans now consider access to digital assets and their distribution. Accessing accounts without authority can be viewed as a violation of user agreements, possibly triggering many unforeseen legal events.
At SMART Wills we have created the SMART Access Resource Guide with over 100 pages of prompts on accounts, passwords and responsible contacts you may need to have access to for your mom and dad, partner and or Estate planning team.
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This material is for general information and educational purposes only. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions.