I’ll Tweet When I’m Dead: Estate Planning in the Digital Age

I’ll Tweet When I’m Dead: Estate Planning in the Digital Age

Click here to view original web page at flipthemedia.com

Hooked on Twitter? Can’t miss a day with out tweeting? Soon there may be a solution to proceed gracing followers with pithy witticisms even after we’re now not alive. The utility, now in beta, is named “LivesOn.” “When your coronary heart stops beating, you’ll preserve tweeting,” the LivesOn web site house web page cheerily proclaims.

Welcome to the world of the “digital ,” a product of the indisputable fact that we more and more dwell our lives on-line. With the ubiquity of social media and different types of on-line media, we should always contemplate the risk that our tweets, images, movies, posts, blogs, likes, pins, tags, on-line storefronts, e-mail messages and avatars could dwell on even after we now have died, and whether or not that is what we would like.

Cases in the News

A variety of effectively-publicized circumstances illustrate the damaging penalties of not planning what to do with on-line accounts in the occasion of an premature dying. Take the case of Lance Corporal , who was killed at the age of 20 in 2004 by a roadside bomb whereas deployed in Iraq. His father John Ellsworth wished to create a memorial to his useless son and requested that Yahoo launch the e-mails that his son had written whereas he was on obligation. After a authorized battle, the following 12 months, a probate courtroom ordered Yahoo to supply the contents of his son’s electronic mail account to Ellsworth (see Yahoo releases e mail of deceased Marine).

The case highlighted the tensions between an ISP’s phrases of service, that are designed to guard privateness, and the wants and pursuits of a grieving household. Other circumstances have arisen that contain households who need entry to the accounts of youngsters who commit suicide or who go away as a consequence of sickness.

Why You Should Care

planning may help stop, or at the very least mitigate, the painful penalties of conditions akin to these encountered by the Ellsworth household. Without digital , your survivors will should guess at what your needs may need been. Well-that means relations, if they’ve the technical capabilities, could circumvent phrases of service and your privateness to entry the contents of your digital accounts. Information that you could be not have supposed others to see could also be delivered to gentle. Alternately, precious on-line info that you’d have needed your survivors to entry will not be accessible and in the end deleted.

In addition, correct planning can assist forestall your identification from being stolen after you die or turn out to be incapacitated. As Gerry Beyer and Kerri Griffin word in their paper, Estate Planning for Digital Assets, “Until authorities replace their databases relating to a brand new demise, criminals can open bank cards, apply for jobs beneath a useless particular person’s title, and get state identification playing cards.”

Herding the Legal Cats: The UFADAA

Proper transmission of digital belongings after dying is an rising space of regulation. Currently, the legal guidelines and pointers in the United States on the way to deal with on-line accounts and information after dying or throughout incapacitation are incomplete, advanced, and conflicting. Fortunately, a latest authorized growth might assist change that. On July sixteen in Seattle, the Uniform Law Commission handed the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which governs entry to digital property.

Drafting a profitable uniform act that addresses a activity that may be emotionally fraught, in the midst of an ever-altering technical and authorized panorama, was no small problem. Among the key challenges that the ULC needed to deal with in drafting the act had been: Defining phrases that haven’t been beforehand outlined in any statutes, making certain compliance with present federal and state legal guidelines that tackle unauthorized entry to digital data (for instance, the Stored Communications Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and The Digital Millennium Copyright Act), offering sufficient specificity to forestall unnecessarily litigation, and sufficient generality to permit people and courts leeway for evolving interpretation as know-how continues to change.

According to a latest ULC press launch, “The UFADAA solves the drawback utilizing the idea of ‘media neutrality.’ If a fiduciary would have entry to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will even have entry to an identical sort of digital asset.” The uniform act covers 4 kinds of fiduciaries:

  • Personal representatives (often known as executors) of a deceased individual’s property
  • Conservators (often known as guardians) for a dwelling individual
  • Agents appearing below a power of attorney
  • Trustees of a belief

While the UFADAA would vest fiduciaries with the authority to entry, management, or copy digital property, it might honor the account holder’s intent to maintain sure property non-public.

Ultimately, after a last evaluate and edit of the UFADAA (anticipated this fall), this uniform act will be finalized and accessible for consideration and adoption by the states.

What You Can Do Now to Plan Your Digital Estate

In the meantime, you possibly can nonetheless develop an efficient , in session together with your attorney. Key steps will embrace:

  • Completing a digital asset stock
  • Identifying a and consulting together with your attorney
  • Providing entry to your digital belongings
  • Providing directions on the way to administer your digital property
  • Granting your digital (s) authority to manage your digital estate

Also, it received’t damage to familiarize your self together with your on-line service suppliers’ phrases of service and different related assets. Key sources that you could be wish to begin with embody the following:

In addition to those sources, and afterlife specialists Evan Carroll and John Romano keep a and afterlife on-line companies listing on their weblog, the digital past.


Words Cloud, by Greek Tweeters, CC BY NC 2.0
Words Cloud, by Greek Tweeters, CC BY NC 2.0

Hooked on Twitter? Can’t miss a day without tweeting? Soon there might be a way to continue gracing followers with pithy witticisms even after we’re no longer alive. The application, now in beta, is called “LivesOn.” “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting,” the LivesOn website home page cheerily proclaims.

Welcome to the world of the “digital afterlife,” a product of the fact that we increasingly live our lives online. With the ubiquity of social media and other forms of online media, we should consider the possibility that our tweets, photos, videos, posts, blogs, likes, pins, tags, online storefronts, email messages and avatars may live on even after we have died, and whether this is what we want.

Cases in the News

A number of well-publicized cases illustrate the negative consequences of not planning what to do with online accounts in the event of an untimely death. Take the case of Lance Corporal Justin Ellsworth, who was killed at the age of 20 in 2004 by a roadside bomb while deployed in Iraq. His father John Ellsworth wanted to create a memorial to his dead son and requested that Yahoo release the e-mails that his son had written while he was on duty. After a legal battle, the following year, a probate court ordered Yahoo to provide the contents of his son’s email account to Ellsworth (see Yahoo releases email of deceased Marine).

The case highlighted the tensions between an ISP’s terms of service, which are designed to protect privacy, and the needs and interests of a grieving family. Other cases have arisen that involve families who want access to the accounts of children who commit suicide or who pass away due to illness.

Why You Should Care

Digital estate planning can help prevent, or at least mitigate, the painful consequences of situations such as those encountered by the Ellsworth family. Without digital estate planning, your survivors will have to guess at what your wishes might have been. Well-meaning family members, if they have the technical capabilities, may circumvent terms of service and your privacy to access the contents of your digital accounts. Information that you may not have intended others to see may be brought to light. Alternately, valuable online information that you would have wanted your survivors to access may not be accessible and ultimately deleted.

In addition, proper digital estate planning can help prevent your identity from being stolen after you die or become incapacitated. As Gerry Beyer and Kerri Griffin note in their paper, Estate Planning for Digital Assets, “Until authorities update their databases regarding a new death, criminals can open credit cards, apply for jobs under a dead person’s name, and get state identification cards.”

Herding the Legal Cats: The UFADAA

Proper transmission of digital assets after death is an emerging area of law. Currently, the laws and guidelines in the United States on how to handle online accounts and data after death or during incapacitation are incomplete, complex, and conflicting. Fortunately, a recent legal development may help change that. On July 16 in Seattle, the Uniform Law Commission passed the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which governs access to digital assets.

Drafting a successful uniform act that addresses a task that can be emotionally fraught, in the midst of an ever-changing technical and legal landscape, was no small challenge. Among the key challenges that the ULC had to address in drafting the act were: Defining terms that have not been previously defined in any statutes, ensuring compliance with existing federal and state laws that address unauthorized access to digital information (for example, the Stored Communications ActComputer Fraud and Abuse Act, and The Digital Millennium Copyright Act), providing enough specificity to prevent unnecessarily litigation, and enough generality to allow individuals and courts leeway for evolving interpretation as technology continues to change.

According to a recent ULC press release, “The UFADAA solves the problem using the concept of ‘media neutrality.’ If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset.” The uniform act covers four types of fiduciaries:

  • Personal representatives (also known as executors) of a deceased person’s estate
  • Conservators (also known as guardians) for a living person
  • Agents acting under a power of attorney
  • Trustees of a trust

While the UFADAA would vest fiduciaries with the authority to access, control, or copy digital assets, it would honor the account holder’s intent to keep certain assets private.

Ultimately, after a final review and edit of the UFADAA (anticipated this fall), this uniform act will be finalized and available for consideration and adoption by the states.

What You Can Do Now to Plan Your Digital Estate

In the meantime, you can still develop an effective digital estate plan, in consultation with your attorney. Key steps will include:

  • Completing a digital asset inventory
  • Identifying a digital executor and consulting with your attorney
  • Providing access to your digital assets
  • Providing instructions on how to administer your digital assets
  • Granting your digital executor(s) authority to administer your digital estate

Also, it won’t hurt to familiarize yourself with your online service providers’ terms of service and other relevant resources. Key resources that you may want to start with include the following:

In addition to these resources, digital death and afterlife experts Evan Carroll and John Romano maintain a digital death and afterlife online services list on their blog, the digital beyond.

Eleanore

Eleanore

Main curator on Digitaldeathguide. Supported by a bot. Some articles may need to be weeded, don't hesitate to tell me !