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Does your estate plan account for digital property?

When planning the eventual distribution of your estate assets, one of your primary goals is to ensure that your wishes are communicated clearly. However, in a world increasingly characterized by our connection to digital technologies, estate planners have to think not only about which heir will receive what, but also about whether heirs have access to digital assets.

Depending on the given situation, a digital legacy may include a variety of online activities and items of property. For example, banking, investing and the management of intellectual property can all be done online. Without the right planning, the distribution of those assets could be delayed -- or worse, the distribution of digital assets may have to be decided in court.

A good first step toward preventing such problems is to inventory your digital assets, including the related usernames and passwords. If you have any social media accounts, then those may also be included.

One issue that arises with digital assets is the need to change passwords for security reasons. Of course, your inventory would need to be updated whenever passwords change or in the event that you close or transfer accounts. An estate planning lawyer can advise on the most effective ways of managing these matters so that your digital legacy is appropriately preserved and that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

The unfortunate reality is that each year in Ontario valuable bank accounts and other assets go unclaimed, or the value the property is diminished by legal disputes among family members and other interested parties.

For more on making your message heard and safeguarding all of your estate assets, please see Hagel Lawfirm's overview of legal practice areas.

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