The primary purpose of estate planning is to make sure all your affairs are dealt with in a timely, cost effective manner. Our world has become more and more electronic based over the past few decades, and will only become more so. Many of our “things” are actually digitally based today. Consider the following in your estate plan:
Personal Computer – Most Canadians today have at least one computer and, for security reasons, a password is needed for access. A computer can be accessed without the password, but it can cause delays and incur unnecessary expenses.
E-Mail – Whether you access your e-mail on the Internet or use software to manage it, you need a password to access it.
Digital pictures – Since it became readily available almost 20 years ago, the digital camera has become a staple item for most. Literally billions of digital pictures are taken daily. Where are yours and who can access them when you can’t?
Digital Music and E-Books – Go just about anywhere today and many people you see have ear buds in listening to music or are reading a book on a digital device. You likely have a collection of your own.
Online Accounts – More and more is done on the Internet, and you likely have a long list of user names and passwords to access many of the sites you visit regularly. Your executor will need to be able to deal with all of your online presence.
There are probably more digital things that need to be included in your estate plan. Consider the following strategies:
Trust Someone – You will need to trust at least one individual with your password to access your computer. In many cases, that same person may trust you with their password, too. Keep their information safe.
Manage Them – With so many user names and passwords to remember, many are using password managers to keep organized. These are small software programs, many of which are free or very low cost. Familiarize each other with the systems you use.
Keep it Secure – In this case, a Post-it note just won’t cut it. Use your password manager to keep track of their information and vice versa. Inform your executor of your plans.
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