When meeting with a lawyer to discuss estate planning, most
often the client will consider the dispositions of his/her real
property, personal possessions, business interests, and other
investments. Proper consideration also needs to be given to the
extent and nature of the client's digital assets.
Almost everyone has a digital presence, but every
individual's digital presence may vary significantly in scope
and in economic value. Most people today have an email address and
account. A client should consider whether there are any emails he
or she wishes to share with a beneficiary, whether an important
financial document or an email of particular emotional
significance, and direct the estate trustee to dispose of any such
emails according to particular instructions.
Many individuals also have profiles on social media websites
such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. With the
increase of posting pictures and videos online, and the decline of
creating printed photo albums and tapes/DVDs of home videos, it may
be that family photographs that would otherwise have been
bequeathed as a physical asset, exist only in digital form, whether
on an online social media server, or on the hard drive of a
computer, tablet, mobile phone, or memory card. A testator should
carefully consider which of these digital assets are to be
preserved, and how to distribute these assets to the intended
Another digital asset that should be considered is one's
digital music and movie collection, given the monetary value of a
media collection purchased through a service such as iTunes. There
is also value in domain names, as well as in digital currency such
as Bitcoin. The above are only examples of a few types of digital
assets, and this list is not meant to be exhaustive.
Estate planning is complicated, and it is always recommended
that you consult with a lawyer to assist in your estate planning
needs, but while going through the process of reflection on and
evaluation of your estate, and deciding how it is to be
distributed, it is important to turn your mind to your digital
assets, so you can instruct your lawyer which of these assets are
to be preserved, and how they are to be distributed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
On March 31, 2014, BC's new Wills, Estates and Succession Act1 ("WESA") will come into force. WESA introduces new protections for beneficiaries of estates that are in danger of being disputed or deemed ineffective by a court.
It is not uncommon for parents to provide monetary gifts to their adult children. Parents may wish to help their child with a down payment on a property, or help pay out their child's existing mortgage.
The sons of the deceased successfully set aside a joint tenancy between the deceased and her daughter on the basis of undue influence despite the fact that the deceased had received independent legal advice.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).