Funerals and Instagram: A look at the funeral hashtags

Dealing with Digital Death And Afterlife

“Do not stand at my grave and weep. 
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow, 
I am the diamond glints on snow.”

Mary Frye wrote that in 1932. And as we consider those thousand winds and diamond glints today, it could be akin to our digital presence. Life for you or a loved one may be gone, but the digital afterlife lives on.

Because people don’t like to think or talk about mortality and consider tweets and texts and the online world ephemeral and intangible, they naturally don’t consider their online presence living after them. But it does and will, for the 1.23 billion of us who are on Facebook alone.

What happens to our digital afterlives is becoming an increasingly urgent philosophical debate. How do you want to manage your digital footprint – the collection of memories that encapsulates you – after you’re gone? And what if you’re unexpectedly left to do the same for a loved one? Where do you even begin?

Like everything else in the digital world, policies and procedures and regulations usually happen after the fact. And all too often, as in the real world, so does digital estate planning.

2013 research report by U.S. Trust, the private wealth management arm of Bank of America, sheds some light on the rather gloomy state of digital estate planning – even for the wealthiest among us, who are most likely to have wills:

  • More than six in 10 (63%) high net worth individuals report they have not outlined wishes and instructions for their digital assets.
  • Forty-five percent have not organized passwords for accessing digital accounts and files.

A 2012 survey by online legal service Rocket Lawyer serves as a wake up call for Boomers in particular. It found that 41% of Baby Boomers aged 55-64 do not have a will, let alone a digital one. Mirroring the U.S. Trust study, it also found 63% did not know what would happen to their digital assets if they die.

Since protecting our digital assets is extremely important at AVG, I’m proud to announce that we’ve created a free eBook Dealing with Digital Death that offers a starting point for tackling the issue.  It offers considerations, recommendations, resources and guidance. From how to tackle the sensitive issues around what to do with social media profiles and blogs to creating memorials – as well as practical information on digital estate planning and how to delete retail accounts.

Here are my three takeaways:

  • Make a will!  If you already have one, good for you! Add a digital codicil, which is a simple document that amends your will, to include digital estate planning.
  • At the very least, make a list of your digital assets, passcodes and avatars, if you have them.
  • Share information and help educate your friends about the for need digital estate planning.

Sorry to be a bit morbid, but as death is a part of life, the digital world is now a part of the afterlife – and all those diamond glints.

Creating a succession plan for data after death

Creating a succession plan for data after death

The one certainty in life is death.

The experience will be traumatic, scary and confusing for those left behind. For that reason, estate planning is the last conversation that any person wants to have. It’s critical, however, for consumers to ensure that their personal and professional assets remain in good hands.

For business owners and solo-entrepreneurs, succession planning can be much more complicated.

In the event of a founder’s unexpected passing, the remaining team needs to carry on without interruptions.

Mark Snow

Attorneys and financial advisors can help facilitate a smooth transition for business operations, proprietary documents and plans. But what happens to intangible assets, like a business owner’s data?

“Today, business succession planning is multifaceted, taking into account more than just who will take over a business or company,” says estate planning lawyer Gary Altman. “In response to our technologically advanced world, we now include planning for one’s digital estate.”

A digital estate, according to Altman, includes financial accounts, passwords, social media content and any other data being utilized by a business. Business owners need a clear plan for who receives access to information and how long a successor should have access.

“These details should be spelled out in advance,” says Altman.

More than spreadsheets

Altman points out that a succession plan can be as simple as a password-protected Word or Excel document on a secure computer.

“These systems could have all the business digital data and access to information that will be needed after the owner passes,” says Altman. “There are several companies offering various forms of data security and even companies that store passwords and provide access to those authorized.”

These documents should be prepared as part of a larger strategy and vision.

“The first step is to meet with an experienced estate and business planning attorney to discuss what the owner’s intentions are,” says Altman.

These professionals can provide direction toward the most effective tools and resources for accomplishing key intentions.

“The only way to ensure a smooth transition of data to successors is to have a legally documented plan, as well as to authorize someone else access to the full range of business data,” says Altman. “The plan will give clear authority to the chosen successor and explain what this person needs to do.”

Process management

Mark Snow and his team built SafelyFiled, an Internet-based company to assist individuals in the organization and storage of important documents, after dealing with the experience of settling their family members’ estates.

“My father had an insurance agency when he died, and though he was a very organized man, his method of organizing was not apparent until just about all the documents were found,” says Snow. “We realized that there had to be an easier way to deal with the masses of documents created by a business.”

With so many records in digital form, heirs may be unaware of assets and important files.

“We created SafelyFiled to help,” says Snow. “Secure cloud storage is ideal for this function. By not having the data on premises or on a desktop, it is protected from natural disasters like floods, tornadoes and fires.”

Snow says that a well-designed cloud service will provide protection from malware or cybertheft.

“It is critical that the cloud storage service also provide a way to make sure data is not changed,” says Snow. “If the data can be changed, there should be a complete audit trail.”

For instance, these records can be valuable in the event of an IRS audit or dispute with internal stakeholders. For accounting purposes, there should be strict limitations around deletion of files so that there is a traceable record of assets and liabilities.

Snow emphasizes that a succession plan should be designed with the future in mind.

“Assets like client lists or trade secrets need to be protected and secured, with reasonable assurances to the buyer that these assets have not been leaked,” says Snow.

The power tool that Snow recommends to maintain order? A checklist.

“The plan must be simple enough that it will actually be used,” he says.

A checklist for the executor of a digital estate

A checklist for the executor of a digital estate –

I talk a lot about digital belongings; I personally assume that most individuals haven’t adequately thought-about what will develop into of their on-line selves on their deaths, and only a few service suppliers have even begun to consider their customers dying, not to mention what will occur to the service once they do.

I often learn the Avoid a Claim weblog, which has all kinds of helpful data on fraud schemes towards legal professionals (we’re a large goal) in addition to nice follow suggestions. Recently, they revealed a lengthy article on what to do with digital belongings on the dying of the consumer. I was notably concerned with the part on whether or not an executor might be punished criminally for inappropriately accessing a deceased person’s on-line accounts (conclusion: unlikely as being given the passwords is a clear indication that you got permission and authority to entry them). The smartest thing in the article is in the direction of the finish, the place there may be a checklist on what to do when confronted with digital belongings.

Planning Steps To Protect Your Digital Assets

Planning Steps To Protect Your Digital Assets

In my previous column, I described the safety challenges enterprise homeowners have with their digital property. Unfortunately, the problems are extra encompassing thanjust the chance of stolen buyer bank card knowledge.

To get a deal with on these threats to their enterprise, homeowners should perceive the breadth of firm data that’s digital: banking data, paperwork, spreadsheets, personnel data, domains. Further, the proprietor should acknowledge the chance will not be restricted to the difficulty of theft of digital data. There can be the problem of figuring out the place this data is positioned and whether or not the placement is safe. Does digital information resideon firm servers, in an worker’s good telephone or is it floating round someplace within the cloud? Added to this,is the issue of accessing this digital data. The data could exist, however it might grow to be inconceivable to entry, both due to hardware failure, misplaced usernames and passwordsor failure of the corporate sustaining the knowledge. What steps can a enterprise proprietor take to minimize the chance, mitigate the losses and in any other case provide a point of peace of thoughts?

Get Help:  When I purchased my Apple II within the late Nineteen Seventies, the customer wasessentially anticipated to function installer, customer support rep and repairman. There had been no shops, web sites or geek squads obtainable to deal with issues. This is not the case. Thetechnical infrastructure supporting digital info is nicely-developed. There are wonderful sources, each human and digital, for designing a digital asset safety plan. Just as a enterprise makes use of specialists to assist design a catastrophe restoration plan for its bodily plant, so too ought to a enterprise think about using outdoors experience to create a digital asset safety plan.

Make an Inventory:Can you determine all the data you may have that’s digital, each enterprise and private? And have you learnt the place it’s saved? Is the knowledge on the premises, within the cloud, on worker’s private digital devise?It is so commonplace to have staff personal their very own digital devises that, moderately than preventing the pattern, companies are designing asset safety plans round BYOD (deliver your personal gadget).  It is essential to know what gadgets staff use and what data will be saved in these devises. An stock should additionally embrace the place and the way this info is backed up. And, most significantly, that you must understand how this info could be accessed.Are consumer names and passwords recorded someplace that’s each protected and accessible?

Clean it Up:  The stock is prone to expose weaknesses in your digital asset safety plans. For instance, you could discover that key knowledge isn’t being backed up on a constant foundation. This affords a possibility to retailer information each on safe tangible media and offsite within the cloud. In different circumstances, chances are you’ll discover that your organization’s info is copied and backed-up in a number of and unregulated media, unnecessarily exposing that data to theft or misuse. This is your probability to reign within the knowledge.

Give and Get Permission:  My earlier column identified that federal legislation could make individuals unwitting felons once they use another person’s consumer identify and password. While it stays troublesome to ameliorate this authorized purgatory, some type of written permission is healthier than no documentation in any respect.  Further, in some circumstances, there is a chance to specify disposition of a digital account in line with the supplier’s directions. Google, for instance, lately created the Inactive Account Manager which permits customers to manage what occurs to emails, pictures and different paperwork saved on sure Google websites.  Law Professor Gerry Beyer of Texas Tech University affords various authorized steps which will assist shield digital property, notably in an property planning context. It could also be attainable to authorize an agent to entry digital property, or the property will be positioned in a belief. If the digital belongings are of a private nature, it could even be acceptable to incorporate particular directions in a will.

Use Online Protection Services:Why not use software program to guard what your software program generates?  There is an energetic trade of on-line instruments designed to guard and deal with digital property. Some are on-line password managers reminiscent ofLastPass and PasswordBox.  Others, corresponding to Estate++ and If I Die, search to retailer details about digital belongings and even ship emails about these property ought to the proprietor die.  They can function a digital security deposit field and ship out notes to pre-designated recipients at dying.

Digital asset safety is a course of that lags behind know-how each when it comes to regulation and trade requirements. While IT gurus can cook dinner up artistic methods to retailer and defend digital info, it’s painfully apparent that they’re typically designing techniques and requirements on the fly. This makes it all of the extra vital to supervise the creation of a digital asset plan for each your enterprise and household, evaluate it steadily, and modify it as time and know-how strikes on.