Considerations for the Management and Administration of Digital Legacies
From the perspective of estate and testamentary planning, digital legacy issues include:
- the identification and disposition of digital assets,
- addressing digital liabilities (crystallized or contingent)
- securing and dealing with legal, personal and medical information according to the instructions of the testator and applicable trust, taxation, privacy and other laws, and
- generally ensuring the smooth unfolding of the post-mortem estate administration so as to minimize uncertainty, discomfort and legal expense to the beneficiaries.
For the solicitor, estate planner or executor, achieving these objectives may be difficult given variety of specialized skills entailed and the sparse, yet rapidly evolving professional standards which obtain. Furthermore, estate professionals must remain cognizant of the professional risks associated with any digital legacy practice.
This presentation will briefly detail our experience with a professional digital legacy practice and describe some of the more common digital assets, digital liabilities and issues arising on administering digital legacy estates. Emerging standards and a framework for addressing testamentary digital legacy planning will also be discussed.
Daniel Nelson’s legal practice focuses on estate planning and administration, as well as legal services for designers, web and social media developers, and gaming firms. He is a frequent lecturer and writer on legal, historical and new media topics and teaches law at George Brown College. In addition, he serves as General Counsel to the Association of Canadian Industrial Designers, Counsel to the Institute without Boundaries and is a director of several new media companies. He can be reached via www.danielnelson.ca.