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Estate planning in the digital age

Some people have amassed a number of assets in the technological realm. When it comes to estate planning, citizens of Canada should be mindful to include those assets in their wills. In this digital age, some people's assets go beyond investment portfolio shares, valuable collections like art, or a sports car.  

Things like website domain names, online branding of a business or even funds raised through crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe or Kickstarter are all examples of potential digital assets, as are AirMiles points. By not documenting them in a will, it could mean a nightmare for an executor who will have to sort through everything. Passwords and logins should also be written down and kept in a safe place. 

With the help of a lawyer experienced in wills and estate law, those who have a number of digital assets should have a digital will fashioned. Such a will would point out ownership of the assets and who has access and control of them. Digital assets should be kept apart from business or personal assets. 

Digital property like blogs, domain names or even a YouTube channel might likely be relatively good income generators and might even need to be valued independently. Appointing a digital executor if the assets are plentiful may be prudent. This person should be given login information such as passwords and should be given clear instructions on what to do with these digital sites upon the owner's death. People have to think about how all this will be accessed when they're no longer here. Make a list and check it often, and update passwords and information as it changes. 

A lawyer experienced in wills and estates law can be of invaluable service when it comes to sorting out how to document digital assets. It is one realm of estate planning in Canada that has taken a back seat. And the more people grow their income online, the sooner they need to talk to a lawyer about a digital will.

Source: essentialaw.ca, "Do You Have A Plan For Your Digital Assets When You Die?", Accessed on Aug. 12, 2017

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