Last week I had the pleasure of presenting as part of a panel at an Estate Planning Workshop organized by Mr. Christian Steinbock from Dominion Securities. I was joined by Ms. Indra Bharat, Financial Planning Consultant with RBC and Mr. Ismail Barmania, Estates and Trust lawyer at Barmania-Lawyers.
It was an informative evening and as discussions continued regarding elder care issues and the importance of having Powers of Attorney in place, we also discussed wills and estates.
Technical advances over the last twenty years have been incredible. Internet activity and storage ‘on the cloud’ make those of us who like to read a newspaper and remember getting newsprint on our hands, out of the loop. What happens to all of our information that is stored ‘on the cloud’ or on the web after death?
For who has not updated or created a will, there is much to consider including social media accounts and other on line assets. In his article, on Digital Assets, Mr. Barmania indicates that online identities and social media profiles are important assets and are used to store information, documents, photos and as well, are used to participate in banking, commerce, auctions and other transactions. Similarly as he points out, commercial activities including online retailing and digital payments can raise both obligations and entitlements. He recommends that the Estate Trustee be named as successor on all online accounts and assets and from there, the accounts can either be ‘taken down’ or can continue or modify the site or transfer the account. He also shared the “Google Will” which is also known as the ‘inactive account manager’ which allows all information to be deleted from the account or to designate someone else to take control of the account. I know that when I have seen a Linked In profile or Face book page of someone who has died, it does send make me stop and reflect.
Lesson Learnt: What is on line may stay on line for a very long time. Consider listing of all your accounts and passwords in a safe place and tell your POA’s and Executor where it is!