Stranger Gifts

Pet Legacy Clauses
February 4, 2022
Pet Legacy Clauses
February 4, 2022
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Stranger Gifts

With Christmas coming I am reminded of some of the more unusual gifts I have given, or received over the years at gift exchanges at my office and my Rotary Club – some gifts include novelty boxing gloves, car reindeer antlers, and a Motorola carphone (interesting).

In Wills and Estates, typical assets people include in their estate are assets with financial value, like their house, investments or vehicles.   In estate matters, an asset is something you own – which in some cases may not have financial value.

There may be some assets you own which form part of your estate, that are less than typical.  Sometimes people don’t even consider them as assets.  I call these stranger gifts.  

These gifts are unique and require special consideration in how they are taken into account in your estate plan.

1) Digital Assets

Digital Assets do not exist in a physical form – there existance is purely on line.  Some of these assets have financial value, like digital currency or non-fungible tokens (NFTs).  An example of NFTs are virtual playing cards or digital photos of professional athletes – like NBA Top Shot.  Others do not have financial value but could have strong sentimental value, such as digital photos or posts on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

The main consideration with digital assets is accessibility.  Your executor needs to know the location of a digital wallet, where you store your digital assets that have value, and your social media log-in/user name.  For a deeper dive on estate planning and digital assets, author Sharon Hartung has written 3 insightful books on the subject.

2) Genetic (reproductive) materials

With medical advancements, in vitro fertilization (IVF), has increase the opportunities for people to have children.  In some cases harvested sperm and embrios are frozen for future use.  These genetic reproductive materials may continute to exist at the time of death, at which time they are considered part of the deceased assets.

People may not consider their genetic materials as an asset they own.

It is important for people to identify genetic materials in the estate planning process and determine their plan for them.  This may involve a discussion with their partner and lawyer on what is to happen to the genetic materials if they continue to exist after dying.

3) Pets

The family pet is part of your estate.   While it is not an asset your executor could convert to value (in most cases) – your executor still needs to deal with them.   While family or friends may make a moral promise to look after your beloved Maxor Luna, it is possible to make provisions in your Will for who will provide the physical care and receive financial assistance for the care of your pet.  

Owning a horse for riding or show jumping can also be interesting in estate planning, as they are an asset that could be sold.

For more information, read my article on Pet Legacies

When someone dies, their Will directs the distribution of all their assets to a surviving spouse, children or other family members.  Their assets may include a mix of financial and non-financial assets.  

Because all assets are distributed, it is important in the planning stages to properly identify all of your assets.  The “stranger” form of assets need identification,together with more discussion and planning to ensure they are thoughtfully addressed.

As a lawyer dedicated to helping clients create an effective estate plan, I would be happy to assist you with creating yours.  

Les Scholly is a partner with Pritchard & Company LLP and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), and can be contacted by telephone at (403) 527-4411 or by e-mail at 

Les Scholly
Les Scholly helps you navigate the turning points of life. He is a partner with Pritchard & Co. Law Firm, LLP and member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). Contact Les at 403-527-4411 or at