How do I best protect my online identity?

Estate planning: Issues to consider during COVID-19 and beyond

Your digital footprint – do not forget to consider your online identity

Now more than ever, we are relying on technology to manage our lives as well as stay in touch with those people who are the most important to us. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WebEx and Facetime are all efficient tools to stay connected when we have intentionally isolated ourselves to protect our loved ones and the community at large. We all need a virtual hug on a daily basis, but we should also be aware of any risks.

Have you considered your online identity?

Your online identity may include access to financial accounts as well as a presence across numerous social media platforms. What happens to these accounts when you are unable to control them or, at worst, if you die prematurely? Your executor/liquidator or estate trustee will need to be aware of all of these online resources in order to ensure all your assets are dealt with, and that the various accounts are closed in a timely manner. This will prevent unnecessary fees to the estate as well as protect against misuse, financial fraud and potential identity theft.

You should keep a list of online accounts so that your executors1 are aware of their existence and have instructions on how to handle these accounts. It should be noted that the majority of popular websites forbid the user from sharing passwords. As such, the user and executor1 should seek out information on the terms of use of the website and online-account management strategies in the event of the user’s death.

During this pandemic, now may be a better time than any to think about your current estate planning needs, whether your documentation (i.e., your will) is legally valid and reflects your wishes. It can also be an appropriate time to contemplate unanticipated events, such as the premature death of a trustee or beneficiary.

We are here to help during this unprecedented time. Our Tax & Estate Planning team can help with an Estate Consultation to consider the above matters. Contact us for a copy of our Estate Record Keeper to document your key contacts and other important information to assist your executor when they may be required to act.


1 Liquidator in Quebec