People who do not have significant assets may assume they will not benefit from an estate plan. However, every adult has interests worth protecting.
For instance, if you become incapacitated or pass away, do you know who will manage your digital accounts and property?
Understanding your digital assets
Today, many adults live a large portion of their lives in the digital world. We communicate, manage finances and run businesses online. Think about all the sites and apps you utilize from your phone, tablet and computer.
And these accounts and properties can require management by another person when a user passes away.
For example, a third party like an executor may need to:
- Close digital accounts
- Archive information
- Access cryptocurrency, which approximately 1.2 million Canadians hold
- Manage online sales accounts, like eBay, Amazon and Etsy
- Access cloud-based property, like photos and videos
These tasks can be just as crucial as traditional estate administration tasks, but parties often overlook or downplay them because they do not involve tangible assets.
However, there can be enormous real and sentimental value in digital property. And failing to address it in an estate plan can lead to costly losses and avoidable confusion.
Using your estate plan to protect digital property
Failing to acknowledge digital assets and guide others on management appropriately can create a host of conflicts and obstacles. Thankfully, preventing this can be a relatively simple process.
When you are creating an estate plan, you can take the following steps:
- Make a list of digital inventory and property
- Record the sites, logins and passwords that your selected representative will need to access your digital property and keep it in a secure – but accessible – place
- Identify the person whom you would like to manage your online accounts
- Download important documents and keep them with your estate plans
- Provide direction for deleting or sharing personal information, like photos and emails
These measures can make the process of handling digital accounts and affairs far more manageable for those taking on these duties.
Remember: Digital property is still property
Even if you do not own a home or have a lot of money saved in the bank, most adults have digital assets. These can have tangible value, and they can create very real conflicts when we pass away. As such, including digital assets with your estate plan can be wise.