Garton & Harris

Modern wills should cover digital and physical assets

Preparing a will is one of the most important tasks a man or woman in British Columbia can undertake. Making one's final wishes clear will ease some of the burden on those left behind. Many people, however, consider only their traditional assets, such as real estate and bank accounts. Wills can also be used for final instructions about a kind of asset unique to the computing age.

The internet has become a prominent part of many people's lives, both for entertainment and commerce. The concept of "digital assets" is fairly new, and many people overlook them altogether. When a person dies, his or her emails, blogs, and social media profiles continue to exist. It might be prudent to leave passwords for the executor to access these accounts in order that they may be either preserved or discontinued, depending on personal preference and the nature of the account. Business owners should pay particular attention to their online presence and what will become of it after they have passed.

Online monetary accounts should also be remembered, as not all money is stored in bricks-and-mortar banks in the 21st century. For example, a PayPal account may have funds stored in it that cannot be physically accessed and which could be lost if the password dies with the account holder. Provision should be made for access to any credits stored online, along with instructions for their dispersion. 

Digital assets are not something previous generations needed to worry about. Indeed, they are a hallmark of the modern age. They are, however, just as much a part of an individual's estate as the money in the bank and one's property at home. In order to be certain all loose ends are tied up, care should be taken to ensure they are properly addressed. Those looking to leave behind comprehensive wills would do well to work with a law firm knowledgeable about estate law in British Columbia.

Source: Lake County News, "Estate Planning: Important but sometimes unaddressed estate planning issues", Dennis Fordham, Nov. 12, 2016

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