Technological development has changed how most people in Alberta and across Canada navigate their daily lives, including their finances. Goods are ordered and paid for online and dealing with bills, bank accounts and more are done on smartphones, laptops and PCs. This has also brought about changes in the way wills and estates are handled.
An essential part of estate planning is finding a way to allow trustees and executors access to the testator’s computer, phone, different websites and online accounts to manage financial affairs, not only after the person’s death but also in the event of an incident that causes incapacity. Most people keep their various passwords secret, and if they do not list them as a part of their wills, it will make life difficult for those left behind to deal with financial matters. Another matter with which to deal is the hard drive of the computer that likely contains a lot of sensitive and personal information, and including orders for beneficiaries, trustees and executors on what to do with the hard drive after a death must form part of estate documents.
A person who is active on social media will have to include those passwords and authorize someone to close Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other accounts on the various platforms. Other often forgotten assets include prepaid cards and loyalty programs. Air miles, free pizzas and other benefits can be allocated to a designated beneficiary in the will.
While wills and estates can also be done online, it might be a better idea to utilize the skills and experience of an Alberta estate planning lawyer to provide the necessary support and guidance. The professional advice of legal counsel can ensure that nothing is overlooked. Once estate plans are established, annual reviews with the guidance of legal counsel can assist with making the necessary modifications to keep wills and estates current.