Social Media, Digital Assets and Estate Planning

 In Wills and Estates Law

In this day and age, preparing a will is not as simple as it used to be.  In the past, a list of bank accounts, real estate assets (for those of you lucky to have a house, and even a cottage!), and investment holdings was all you really needed to worry about with respect to arming your Estate Trustee with information sufficient to be able to carry out the provisions of your will.

Life has become much more complicated.  Many of you will have a social media profile – LinkedIn or Facebook, for example.  How does this affect estate planning?  Well, I recently received a “Congratulate John on his 5th anniversary” at an employer – John had died one year beforehand of cancer.

Thus, a social media presence creates two issues:  first of all, your estate trustee needs to understand in which social media platforms you participate.  Secondly, he/she needs to understand how to access your platforms in order to delete your presence, or at least modify your site.  This means keeping a list, not only of bank accounts and other asset information, but also locations and passwords for social media sites, to facilitate access.  It then becomes necessary to update that information from time to time, as your social media presence changes.  It is therefore important that such a list is accessible to you to allow changes, but also accessible to your estate trustee, should the unthinkable occur.

You may also participate in groups, chatrooms, marketing sites, or other online activities.  Once again, maintaining and updating a list of these sites and passwords and other information related to them is important, so that your estate trustee knows what is out there and can take care of them on your behalf.

The problem of course, becomes even more complicated with assets like cryptocurrency, that require access keys.  Disclosure of those access keys is like giving someone open access to your bank account, and so guarding that information is important.  At the same time, as the recent news story about QuadrigaCX shows, failure to provide access information for your estate trustee creates disastrous consequences.

When you are preparing your will, it is important to keep the above in mind, and consult with us about the best way of protecting this information, and yet at the same time making it accessible for your estate trustee.

Welcome to estate planning in the digital age!

This blog post was written by Ted Mann, a Partner in the Wills and EstatesReal EstateBusiness and Bankruptcy teams.    He can be reached at 613-369-0368 or at ted.mann@mannlawyers.com.

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