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Protecting Your Digital Assets

Protecting Your Digital Assets

Chances are you have a will, have figured out what will happen with your financial assets and maybe even considered some other critical decisions  that may need to be made on your behalf. 

But have you thought about the plan for your digital assets once you are gone?

When you think about it – we probably have a lot of personal information floating around out there in cyberspace.  

Facebook, online shopping accounts, financial services, iTunes, photos, shared drives are all just some examples of what we have to consider.

In an article published by the Toronto Star, they said that upon death, the average Canadian will have $10,000 in digital assets by the year 2020 (and up to $50,000 for wealthier Canadians) and that 57% of Canadians have not made plans for their digital assets within their estates.

So it looks like there are many people in this situation.

In an e-book on How To Manage Your Digital Assests written by Passare and Evan Carroll from TheDigitalBeyond.com, they outline a number of steps that should be taken to protect and manage your digital assets. 

Here are just some of the highlights of their suggestions;

Step 1: Identify and inventory your digital assets

First, you need to know what you have and put together an inventory.  Computers, smart phones, tablets along with all your online accounts should be inventoried. You should also provide instructions to your heirs on where they are located, how to access them and how you want these assets managed.  Make sure that this information is safely and securely stored.

Step 2: Archive your content

They suggest that you should make sure that you properly backup and safeguard all your data.  Another good suggestion that they had was to make sure that you also consider any personal files that you may have located at work as different companies have different policies about accessing information once someone is deceased.

Step 3: Document your final digital wishes

For the next step, they suggest that you decide what specific instructions you would like your heirs to take for your digital assets.  The four categories that they suggested were;

  • Archiving
  • Sharing
  • Deleting
  • Doing Nothing

Step 4: Formally document your wishes on how to be carried out.

They suggest that you formally create a document that outlines your wishes for your digital assets and have it added as an amendment to your current will or estate plan.  You may also decide to personally communicate this to your loved ones as well.

You can get their full e-book here which has much more information and details about managing and maintaining your digital assets.

As with any part of your will or estate you should probably also discuss your digital assets with your lawyer or notary (if in Quebec).

So unfortunately, it’s not just as easy as shutting down our computers if we really want to secure our digital assets.

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