Estate planning: Don’t wait until it’s too late

There’s no better time than the present to get your estate in order.

I’ve heard every excuse in the book from procrastinators who say they’re too young, too old, too poor or too scared to think about getting a will or a power of attorney in place.

But the truth is that everyone can benefit from getting their wishes down in writing, regardless of how much property they own.

And I can guarantee that the family and friends left behind will thank you for doing so should the worst ever happen, because they’re the ones who have to clean up the mess when assets go unaccounted for.

A recent CBC News story about a 66-year-old Toronto woman’s ordeal following her husband’s death shows that it’s not just traditional assets like houses, cash and jewellery that can cause heartache for a deceased person’s surviving loved ones.

According to the report, the 66-year-old widow has spent the last four years fighting Apple for control of her late husband’s account with the tech giant. Although the pair shared the profile while he was alive, the woman has been locked out since his death because only his name appeared on the file and she was unable to remember the password.

The company is insisting on a court order before it hands over the contents of the account, which the woman plans to turn into a book chronicling her deceased husband’s battle with cancer, in line with his own wishes.
Unfortunately, in my own practice, I frequently see estate administration grind to a halt over simple problems that could have been dealt with easily before the testator’s death.

More and more often, these issues revolve around digital assets – including social media profiles, email accounts, online banking and even loyalty points.

In the absence of guidance in provincial or federal law, account providers typically require court orders before they’ll turn over key information about a deceased person – a process that is unlikely to move quickly, but certain to be costly.

To avoid those problems, at Laredo Law, we prompt new clients to make a list of all their digital assets –– as well as the passwords associated with each.

It’s probably not a good idea to have a list of all your passwords lying around for someone to
find, but you can deposit the details with your lawyer or another trusted person for safekeeping, along with instructions for their use following your passing.

Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Laredo Law (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues.

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Jacob Manishevitz is a mortgage agent with iBridge Capital. His brokerage donates to several charities that range from providing drinkable water to people in need in developing countries; and supporting important organizations by way of activity-based fundraising. If you are looking for worthwhile causes and want to jump on board, please reach out to Jacob.

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