Maureen Henry, a mother who lost her son in Ottawa, was granted complete access to her son’s social media accounts, where she thought she could find the answers to her son’s death. But this was a result of a two year battle in court. And there are many more such stories.
Yet, very few people consider planning on what happens to their online accounts if they were to pass on. An individual today owns more than 100 online accounts! This has led to a growing need for individuals and families to prepare a digital estate plan and a digital will.
Fortunately, the Canadian law has taken steps to ensure you can do this in a legal way.
How does the Candian Law help you in estate planning for your digital assets?
The Uniform Access to Digital Assets by Fiduciaries Act 2016 (UADAFA) provides fiduciaries, or trustees with default access to the digital assets of the deceased person. Essentially, the Act tells how these fiduciaries can access the deceased’s digital assets to carry out their wishes legally.
The UADAFA, while giving rights to the fiduciaries, does so by giving most control to the deceased person’s wishes for their digital assets:
- The latest digital will of the deceased person takes precedence over earlier versions;
- Limits fiduciary’s rights when the deceased drafts a will but appoints a legacy contact for their online accounts; and
- Gives more importance to fiduciary’s rights over service provider’s.
Despite this legislation, however, it’s not clear if companies outside of Canada would comply with these laws.
But don’t worry, you can still take some steps to give maximum security to your accounts even after you’re gone.
What Should You Do To Plan Your Digital Estate?
The first step to plan your digital estate is to track your digital assets. You can use an online estate planning tool like Clocr to do this. Next, draft instructions on what you wish to happen to your digital assets after you’re gone, as per your service providers’ legacy policies. For instance:
- PayPal allows you to close a deceased person’s account.
- Google lets you choose what happens to your account if you were to pass on and even make requests for a deceased person’s account.
- Facebook allows you to delete or memorialise or set up a legacy contact for your account.
That’s it. It’s that simple!