A simple fact of the 21st century is that computer technology touches all our lives. Even people who would consider themselves to be non-techies probably leave larger digital footprints than they realize. For that reason, it is becoming increasingly important for digital assets to be included in wills and estate planning in Ontario.
A digital asset can take many forms. Personal data such as digital photos, emails and social media accounts are all digital assets. So are online monetary accounts, like PayPal, or sites where payment information is stored. Directions for how to deal with these assets should be left for the executor, or in the care of a trusted person who possesses computer skills, should the appointed administrator not be comfortable with the task.
Compiling a list of passwords for safekeeping is an essential first step, along with listing the locations of all assets. These locations may include computers, storage devices, cell phones and Cloud accounts. Gathering this information in advance may prevent undue stress and strain on the executor. Some of the work can even be done by the testator in advance, such as assigning an ‘inactive account manager’ for Google, or choosing whether to automatically turn a Facebook account into a memorial after passing.
Digital assets are gradually coming to be grouped along with more traditional assets, and more people are including instructions for managing them in their wills. Properly preparing for the administration of digital assets can be a difficult task for some people. Having the assistance of an Ontario estate lawyer may be of great benefit while completing this important document.