Financial Literacy for Everyone
for educators

Financial Soccer
The new 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil game is here. Is your financial knowledge ready for a workout?
Play the game

free materials

Like Us On Facebook
Practical Money Skills Canada is on Facebook. Click the "Like" button on the top of our Facebook page to follow our financial news and tips.
Like Us Now

Follow Us
FacebookTwitter
Worksheets & Quizzes
Canada’s Peter Pig’s Money Counter

NEW Canada’s Peter Pig’s Money Counter
Learning about money is fun with Peter Pig. Kids can practice identifying, counting and saving money while learning fun facts about Canadian currency with this interactive educational game.
Play now

free materials

Free Lesson Plans
Give your students a deeper understanding of money management with curriculum offered by Choices & Decisions: Taking charge of your financial life™.
Learn More

Why You Need a Will and Power of Attorney

Why You Need a Will and Power of Attorney

By, Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada

By most estimates, over half of adult Canadians haven't written a will stating how their assets should be distributed after death. Even fewer have bothered to appoint someone to make financial and health care decisions on their behalf should they become unable to do so themselves. A will is something that everybody needs, no matter how old, or how wealthy – it is a vital part of your financial plan, that should be written when you're young, and updated throughout your lifetime. And now we can add another necessary, but overlooked legal document: a social media will.

That's right – in this age of email, password protected accounts and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it's important for people to leave instructions for how they want their online identities handled after death.

The first task in creating your social media will is to appoint a trusted relative or friend to act as your "online executor," taking responsibility to close your email accounts, social media profiles and blogs after you pass away. This could easily be an addendum to your will – assuming you have one.

Suggested actions to help you write your social media will include:

  1. Review the privacy policies and the terms and conditions of each website where you have a presence.
  2. State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel your profile or keep it up for friends and family to visit and share their thoughts. Some sites allow your heirs to create a memorial profile where others can still see your profile but can't post anything new.
  3. Give your online executor a list of all websites where you have a profile, along with your usernames and passwords.
  4. Stipulate in your will that the online executor should be given a copy of your death certificate. He or she may need this as proof in order for websites to take any actions on your behalf.

You can take it one step further and leave instructions for accessing your password protected devices and accounts including computers, cell phones, and online bank accounts. The last thing you want grieving relatives to have to do is try and guess your account user names and passwords.

In case you've been procrastinating about completing a will, here's a good motivator: although wills aren't mandatory, if you don't have one when you pass away, your provincial government will decide how your estate is settled. Similarly, if you don't have a power of attorney, someone else – not necessarily the person you wish – will make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf should an accident or illness render you unable to do so.

Here are a few things that could go wrong if you don't make your wishes known:

  1. Your assets may be distributed according to the provincial laws of your province, which generally are divided among your surviving relatives in order of family ties. This may be very different from what you would have wanted.
  2. If you do not have any living relatives, your assets automatically go to the province, instead of a close friend or special charity of your choosing.
  3. With no will, the province decides guardianship for minor children whose parents have passed away.
  4. Your wishes regarding life-support procedures and burial instructions may not be followed.

Key documents that can prevent these kinds of scenarios include a will, revocable living trust, financial and healthcare powers of attorney and a living will. And, in this Internet era, a social media will can dictate how your online legacy will live on after you pass away.





This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.

<< Back to Practical Money Matters

Email to a friend

Your Name:
Your Email:
Recipient's Email:
Message: