2018 Estate Planning: Social Media, Cryptocurrency, and How to Handle Digital Assets

Every new year brings new technology to make our lives easier and more efficient, but as you sign up for electronic billing, new social media accounts, and financial planning apps consider this - does anyone else have your passwords?

Including digital assets in your estate plan has become a reality in recent years, and 2018 is no exception. While some people are beginning to plan ahead by using password storage solutions such as Passpack, many Canadians are still not even considering the fact that their Executor could be locked out of very pivotal accounts with essential information.

When you’re making your estate plan, take the following three steps to make sure your digital assets are properly included.

Step One: Make A Social Media Plan

Among the most neglected assets that Canadians forget to include in their estate plans are their social media accounts. Social media accounts have quickly become digital representations of ourselves, an online record of our lives containing our favourite photos, videos, and other memories.

Recently, Facebook launched a feature to assign a friend or family member to become a successor of your social media account. This enables the approved user to gain full access to your account in case of death or a debilitating accident.

Naming your successor and including your passwords in an estate plan will facilitate a smooth transition of ownership so the account can be either deleted or become a memoriam Facebook page.

Ask these three questions about your social media accounts when adding them to your plan:

  1. Should the account be deleted?

  2. Will the account be maintained?

  3. Would anyone want the account to become a memorial page?

Step Two: Collect ALL Digital Assets

It’s not news to anyone that Canadians live much of their lives in digital environments. In fact, over 80% of Canadians have used at least one online tool or service that incorporates their personal finances. This cannot be ignored while planning estates.

“The surge in boomers who have a presence online has created millions of intangible digital assets.” - Estate Planning In the 21st Century: New Considerations In A Changing Society, BMO Wealth Management

It’s very important to keep track of each service used to process personal and financial data. These assets are no less important than physical ones just because they exist online.

It’s a good policy to treat these accounts or tools as assets that can be passed on to next-of-kin or settled upon death or accident. Here are some of the most common digital assets you need to consider:

  •  Paypal accounts

  •  Social Media accounts

  •   Entertainment accounts (Netflix, Itunes, Spotify)

  •   Photo storage or sharing devices

  •   Personal websites

  •   Online banking, including investments

  •   Email accounts

  •   Financial planning or estate planning apps

  •   Online accounts for service providers (i.e. Rogers, TekSavvy, etc.)

Create a list of all of your digital assets and the login credentials necessary to access them.

Either store this list in a safe physical file or in a secure password protection site that your executor or next-of-kin can access.

You should also include an inheritance or succession plan to determine what will be done with your digital assets upon death or accident.

Step Three: Consider Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies have become prominent in mainstream media due to BitCoin recently reaching upwards of $10,000 USD for a single unit.

While the market has been under speculation and criticism from professional economists, a growing number of Canadians own some amount of cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency ownership will only become more popular as time progresses, however, the problem lies in that they are intangible and often stored on third-party devices like USB sticks or personal computers. This makes them easy to be overlooked, despite their value.

The solution? Keep track of your cryptocurrency value and location at all times. Creating or curating a written template that accommodates cryptocurrency is the easiest way to ensure that your estate is prepared for the future.

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, should be treated as legitimate financial assets and therefore included in every estate plan with care.


If you’re looking for more help with estate planning or understanding the roles and responsibilities of an executor, please visit ERAssure.com or download this free Will Preparation Guide.


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