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Don't overlook your digital assets during estate planning

Technological advancements have made it easy for every Canadian to cultivate a digital presence. This enables people to broaden their lives, grow worldwide friendships and carry out financial tasks all from the comfort of home. Having a digital presence means users are required to create access information such as usernames and passwords. While it is crucial to keep this access information closely-guarded, it can be problematic after a person dies.

Even the most detail-oriented resident of British Columbia may overlook their digital presence when estate planning. As a result, it could be impossible for heirs or estate administrators to access these digital accounts. This might not seem like a big deal for social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, but for financial accounts, it could mean trouble. The solution is to keep a constantly updated list of digital accounts, including usernames and passwords, in a safe place. Examples include home safes or vaults and safety deposit boxes.

You should also take steps to include digital asset details in your estate planning documents. This will make estate administration much easier for your chosen representatives and will eliminate any confusion about what kind of digital assets you possess. With so much of the country's population using electronic methods of account control, it only makes sense to ensure that your estate administrator can access and manage your accounts after you die.

If you are in the process of creating or updating your estate plan with your lawyer, it is a good time to address your digital accounts. Remember that you will need to update this information regularly as you acquire new digital assets or close out certain accounts.

Source: Canadian Living, "How to plan your digital estate," Helen Racaneilli, accessed June 09, 2016

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