Part 2: Digital and other unique assets
Digital currency is virtual money that can be used to buy and sell goods or services online. Where digital currency is used to pay for goods or services, the rules for barter transactions apply and should be included in income.
If you own digital currency in the form of bitcoin, clear terms should be included in your Will or Power of Attorney.
Keeping a record of your private key on paper in a secure location is one way to safeguard your asset in the event of your death. Without a copy of the key, no one can access your bitcoin and there is no way to replicate the key once it is lost.
Another option might be to acquire third party “vault” storage for your assets. This type of storage allows for joint ownership.
If you use Apple products and services including, iTunes, iCloud, and Photo Stream, or make purchases from the Apple Store with your Apple ID, be aware that your ID and content rights are non-transferable after your death.
To close an account, Apple support must be contacted directly and will require the account holder’s Apple ID, email, password and death certificate to close out accounts for that user.
If you are a user of gaming sites, you might want to enquire about their polices regarding account transferability or closure of accounts after death. Processes and requirements can vary widely between sites. For example, STEAM and Runscape permit account closure but disallow refunds or transferability; DraftKings permits closure and full refund of existing funds while PokerStars will not contemplate closure.
If you are the owner of an Ebay account, it’s possible you have items listed for sale, purchases that require payment, accounts containing funds, purchases that require shipping or have bidding underway on items.
In the event of your death, your estate executor can contact Ebay directly to close out your account.
To close an Ebay account, accounts must meet the following requirements:
Account balance must be zero
No outstanding transactions
No performance standard deficits
No outstanding bids
60 day waiting period to close
If you possess a PayPal account at the time of your death, your estate executor can work with PayPal to close out the account. If funds remain, a cheque will be issued in the name of the account holder or a deposit will be made to deceased’s linked bank account.
To close a PayPal account, the Will or other acceptable legal documentation, the death certificate and government issued photo ID of the executor will be required.
Loyalty Rewards Programs
It is estimated the average family belongs to at least eight loyalty reward programs. Reward programs can include airline points, gas, grocery and drugstore programs, financial services, etc. If you’re a member of any loyalty rewards programs, consider the following:
Assigning Power of Attorney authorization over your loyalty and rewards cards;
Including wording authorizing a transfer to your beneficiary.
If you are thinking of setting up a Will or Power of Attorney or updating the one you currently have, take some time to review your digital assets and service agreements. Consider keeping an updated list of login names and passwords, and consider options for safeguarding this information. Back up sentimental items in other places, such as portable hard drives, USB keys, etc.
You can chose to authorize and empower your trustee/attorney to manage your digital assets in the event of your death. By providing executors with clear instructions and authorizations, we can organize and protect our digital assets after we die.
Next week, in the last part of our three part series on digital and unique assets, we’ll focus on unique assets.
All clients and prospective clients should seek independent legal and tax advice regarding their particular legal, tax and estate planning needs. Please contact us for more information.