When someone dies here in Ontario or elsewhere, surviving family members must gather all of the assets accumulated by the decedent that he or she owned at death. This includes large items such as a home down to small items such as jewelry, and everything in between that requires some attention during estate administration. What some people seem to miss is those assets that exist only online or on a computer.
Most Ontario residents have digital assets. Documents and photos stored on a computer are only the beginning. It may not seem like accounting for these types of things would be important, but when family members are looking for reminders and keepsakes from a deceased family member, it could take them some time to realize that those assets are online. If they are already identified and delineated in an estate plan, it would take less time and effort.
Many financial institutions now conduct business only online. Ontario residents need to make sure that they identify these accounts and provide all of the relevant information needed in order to access them. There are also accounts such as iTunes, which also require usernames and passwords. Social media accounts and email accounts also fall into this category. How these digital assets are identified and catalogued is up to the person creating the estate plan.
When beginning the estate planning process, it would be useful to work with an experienced lawyer who knows what questions to ask when it comes to physical and digital assets. The more information that family members have during the estate administration process, the easier it will be on them during an already challenging time. A complete plan gives everyone involved peace of mind that the process should go as smoothly as possible.