Dead Facebook Users will Outnumber the Living by 2098

Digital estate planning – choice

We’re rapidly accumulating digital assets as we build extensive collections of photos, social media posts, cloud files, websites, lists of passwords and logins, music and movie collections, ebooks … and the list goes on. But who will own your digital heritage when you die? And can you bequeath your iTunes library to your kids? In this article: Do you own your ebooks and digital music files? Creating a personal register Creating a social media archive Creating an online digital archive Online memorialisation

after you’re gone Do you need a digital executor? Tips for managing your digital legacy Is a DIY will good enough to secure your family’s future after you’re gone?

Find out in our will kit reviews. Do you ‘own’ your ebooks and digital music files? You may be shocked to learn that you don’t ‘own’ the music, movies and ebooks that you’ve bought online in the same way as you own physical books and other media. When you buy a movie or music file, you’re actually buying a license to ‘use’ the content – and it’s for your own use only.

What this means is that you can’t bequeath your music or movie collection to loved ones in your will by transferring the ownership of the files from your ID to theirs. Creating a personal register If you want to save loved ones the worry of losing your precious digital life at a time when they’re dealing with all the immediate issues when someone passes away, some pre-planning of your digital legacy can really help them out. To start getting a sense of your digital resources, you’ll need to create a register. It’s basically a list of everything you can think of that comes under the banner of ‘digital’, organised into relevant categories. The National and State Libraries Australasia has advice on this.

Logins and passwords Write down the website address along with login and password details for all your online accounts. This will include email, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, blogs and other financial sites, government services, shopping sites, phone and internet accounts, as well as the multitude of other sites you use at any time. Note that banks forbid recording your PIN unless it’s adequately disguised. Check the terms and conditions on your bank’s website for specific details for your account.

If you’ve recorded this information on paper, put the document in a home safe or other secure place. If you’re going to store the details on your computer, use encryption to protect the document and always run up-to-date security software to protect your files. Purchased music, movies and ebooks Next step is to list all of your purchased music, movies, ebooks, digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions including the platforms such as iTunes or Google Play store with login ID and passwords. This will let you (and your loved ones) see what you’ve got in the way of digital entertainment, but you probably can’t just gift them in a will. Personal photos and videos Many people have gigabytes of digital photos and videos and they can be spread across Flickr, iCloud, Picassa and Google Photos to name just a few. Then there are likely to be lots of files stored on your home computer or storage drive. It’s worth having multiple copies of precious photos on DVD or a store drive and cloud storage.

List the platforms where photos and videos are located as well as login details so your family can find and download files. Cloud storage Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive – there are host of cloud storage services where you can have files and other documents stored. You might want to do a bit of housekeeping and clean out any old or unwanted files and then outline what’s stored in any cloud storage platform, what’s important and what’s not worth keeping. Once again, be sure that you note the website link and include login and password details for all sites. Social media posts If you’re an avid user of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, then you’ll likely have a rather large amount of posts, photos and tweets and other contributions. This virtual life is in its own way a slice of your life and something worth keeping and remembering.

Some sites such as Facebook let you pre-decide to have your account memorialised (retained but locked from changes) or deleted when you pass away. Note the URL, login and password for these sites if you want them managed on your behalf. Save your virtual life with a social media archive If you’re curious about what your profile looks like, then you can create your own archive on some sites such as Facebook. Facebook Archive is a downloadable record of your account to save all the photos, comments and status updates that you’ve shared.

Facebook Memorialisation will automatically lock the profile when Facebook has been notified that someone is deceased, but the site won’t provide login information even after death. Accounts can also be deleted. Twitter Archive will download your entire history of tweets and retweets so you can store it for posterity. Google Takeout is a way to archive your information from a range of services including Drive, Photos, Mail and Profile. Accounts can also be deleted.

See google. com/takeout. YouTube Archive will download and save all video uploads in their original file type. What about an online digital archive? There are keepsake and storage sites such as YourDigitalFile and LifeMaps that will chronicle your life, and MyVault that offers secure storage. They have individual security provisions, but most allow you and a nominated person to access the information if you’re incapacitated.

You should need to prove your identity and the identity of any nominees with the 100-point security check and it should use strong encryption to protect logins and passwords. We haven’t tried any of these sites so we can’t recommend them, but we advise you to check their security as well as pricing for ongoing storage. In particular, before you sign up for any secure storage service, read through its privacy statement and contact the site if you need further clarification on how they secure your previous personal information. See the CHOICE wireless routers review to safely secure your home network. Online memorialisation Many funeral homes are now establishing an online memorial for loved ones. It’s a place to leave and share thoughts and photos about somebody who’s passed away.

These sites can be useful for relatives and friends a distance away who didn’t attend the funeral but still want to pay their respect. Heaven Address is a site used by many funeral homes in Australia, while sites like MemorialMatters, Imorial and MuchLoved let you create a public memorial for a loved one or even a public figure or celebrity that you want to remember. And if you want to ease loved ones’ suffering after you’re gone, you can make messages to be sent posthumously – a bit like a letter or video message to be read or viewed after you’ve departed. Sites such as MyGoodbyeMessage will send pre-prepared notes, emails, videos and other messages to friends and family. Do you need a digital executor?

A traditional executor is responsible for your will, but it may be worth nominating someone as a digital executor to help manage your digital affairs (although this isn’t a legally recognised role). When planning your estate, consider putting an e-register with your official will. Agencies such as the State Trustees of Victoria recommend this to help loved ones manage your accounts. The State Trustees site has further advice on estate planning.

Privacy can potentially be an issue when accessing and managing or controlling someone else’s accounts. It could involve dealing with emails, files and other documents that relate to other people. While privacy laws don’t apply to deceased people, documents or anything referred to living people are still legally subject to privacy laws. There are commonwealth privacy laws as well as individual state and territory privacy laws. Tips for managing your digital legacy Transferring ownership of digital assets isn’t as straightforward as physical assets such as property. Ownership of digital media such as music and ebooks will depend on the terms of use for the service.

Transferring IDs on digital devices such as iPads may require a death certificate and application to the manufacturer. Some online services allow access by authorised agents while others require a death certificate for someone else to access and/or close the account. Check the privacy and security criteria before signing up for any online document storage services. To get help with the best way to preserve your digital legacy, Digital Beyond has helpful articles on many aspect of digital estate planning, and Digital Heritage has a wealth of information on managing your digital legacy. The ACCAN has a paper on digital heritage for consumers.

Digital Asset Planning: Who Will Care for Your Pokémon When You’re Gone?

Attorney J. Kenneth Harris Examines Digital Estate Planning

Attorney J. Kenneth Harris, founder of Harris Law Offices, in light of a December 3, 2015, U.S. News & World Report article about what happens to digital legacies when one dies, discusses the importance of digital effects in estate plans.

Haddon Heights, NJ (PRWEB) January 29, 2016

“If your computer, laptop or tablet is password protected, how does someone access these devices in the event of your demise?” said J. Kenneth Harris, who focuses on probate and estate planning. “If you have everything online, how is anyone to discover your accounts?”

According to the U.S. News & World Report article, having all this information in one place is crucial in the event of an emergency or death. Additionally, if someone is incapable of accessing the assets of a loved one that has passed, those assets can disappear.

To ensure your assets are passed on, Harris strongly recommends making a thorough inventory of all your digital assets, listing the name/service provider of the asset, the nature or type of account, the user name, password and answers to security questions.

This list should be kept with your will, power of attorney and other important papers. Once you have made this list you then need to decide what should be done with these accounts: closed, transferred to someone else (i.e. bank accounts for the purpose of estate administration), etc.

“You will need to appoint someone to manage these digital assets, who may or may not be the same person you name as executor of your will,” said Harris.

“You also might want the person managing your digital assets to be more comfortable with computers, online services and be more tech-savvy than the person you name as the executor/administrator of your estate.”

Lastly, since the laws in this area are still developing, one should provide specific instructions as to what they want done with these digital assets and authority granted to your digital personal representative to manage and dispose of digital assets. This is particularly important since most states do not have laws addressing what happens to digital assets upon the death of the owner. “This problem is further compounded by each provider having their own service provider agreement and different ways to deal with this issue,” said Harris.

About J. Kenneth Harris, Harris Law Offices
J. Kenneth Harris, founder of Harris Law Offices, which has been in business for more than 20 years, handles a variety of probate and estate planning matters, including probate administration, wills, trusts, living revocable trusts, charitable planning and retirement plan distribution. He also represents clients in other legal matters such as commercial law, transactional law and real estate. For more information or a free consultation, please call (856) 681-0429. The office is located at 2 White Horse Pike, Haddon Heights, NJ 08035.

About the NALA™
The NALA offers local business owners new online advertising & small business marketing tools, great business benefits, education and money-saving programs, as well as a charity program. For media inquiries, please call 805.650.6121, ext. 361.

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What is Digital Estate Planning and Why Do I Need it?

What is Digital Estate Planning and Why Do I Need it?

estate planning

Creating a personalized estate plan has become more and more important these days. Estate plans nowadays need to include digital estate planning as well. What does that mean? A digital asset is basically anything that is either based on a computer or involves the internet. Common examples are email accounts and online businesses. Who will inherit those unique assets when you pass away? Better yet, why is it important?

Digital assets are more and more common

Communications technology has become more and more popular. As this has happened, digital assets have also become more common. Only a decade ago, not many of us would have even considered a phone to be one of our most important possessions. Today, however, most of us rely almost entirely on our cell phones to communicate, conduct business, store sensitive information, and much more. Although the phone itself is not a digital asset, the information it contains is an asset. Cell phones are also a way to access other digital assets you might own.

What does digital estate planning involve?

Digital estate planning involves issues such as how to protect the assets contained on a cell phone or laptop; who will have the authority to access your email accounts and online bank accounts. More importantly, who will have the basic knowledge that these various digital assets even exist? Consider this example. You sell items online using an eBay or PayPal account, which is linked to your bank account. Someone needs to know how to access those accounts and be allowed to transfer money if you become incapacitated, for instance. Even after you die, your executor needs to know which accounts exist and how to access them. You also need to decide who will ultimately inherit them. This is what a digital estate plan is for.

Times have surely changed

Historically, an estate has consisted of a will, trusts, power of attorney appointment, life insurance policies, and any property that a person owned, including financial accounts. Back then, paper documentation was the only method of recording these estate planning tools and they would often be collected in a folder in a safe or desk drawer. That way, family members would easily be able to find the information after the person passed away. Other information, like bank statements and bills, could be obtained through the mail.

Now, however, most of this information is routinely digitized. So your financial, business, personal, and administrative documents will likely exist in a digital form. While many people manage their finances, businesses, and personal lives online, very few actually have organized or centralized accounts. This can mean that managing and distributing these digital assets will be very difficult after the owner has died, and can lead to confusion, or even worse, denial of access.

Why digital access is important even after death

Even though you may have a business with an actual building, you are certain to still have some digital assets that are tied to that business, such as online access to a bank account. In that situation, there is still significant value in being able to access the online components of your accounts because they can provide easy access to key information that may be necessary for settling your estate.

What can a digital estate plan really do for my family?

There are many ways a digital estate plan can be very helpful to your family. Here are a few examples:

  • Locate any accounts you have online
  • Access those accounts or the information in those accounts
  • Determine if your digital property has any financial value that needs to be reported and perhaps submitted to probate
  • Distribute or transfer any digital assets to the appropriate parties
  • Avoid online identity theft

Why small businesses generally need an estate plan

In general, estate planning can protect your business assets from taxes, control how your assets will be distributed and more. Everyone benefits from a basic estate plan, no matter what their wealth or status may bees. This is also true for small business and family-owned businesses. Understanding why small businesses need an estate plan will help you in making decisions on how to organize and business and plan for succession of that business.

Join us for a free seminar! If you have questions regarding digital assets, or any other estate planning needs, please contact the experienced estate planning lawyers at the Schomer Law Group for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.

Three Areas You Should Consider in Your Digital Estate Plan

Three Areas You Should Consider in Your Digital Estate Plan

Post By George in Estate Administration

Digital estate planning is the aspect of estate planning dealing with non-physical property, especially online or in the cloud, or in electronic accounts.

There are three areas of digital estate planning:

The first area is online assets that have financial value.

For example, a brokerage account that is only accessible online; an online bank account; an eBay account; or a sales account from a business where the value of it is only accessible online. Where there’s a financial value – something that can be measured readily in dollars – then that obviously has a value, and the executor or administrator would have a duty to collect it.

Most people can readily understand this aspect of planning, and it’s the easiest category. A good planner should ask, “So, do you have any money or securities or property that you can access only through the internet?”

The second broad category are items that may have tremendous emotional value, without any financial value.

The best example of this would be photographs. Whether through Facebook or Instagram or photo-specific archive sites, people have electronic assets in the form of images and videos that may not have any dollar value, but could have an exceptionally significant emotional or legacy value.

A person doing their estate planning may have specific wishes about such property – not only who gets what, but whether some of it should be destroyed and how it should be handled. You can certainly imagine someone having specific ideas about who has access to the photos, or leaving a specific instruction that some should be accessible and others not.

Conversely, in a decedent’s estate, just because there’s no financial value doesn’t mean that an executor or administrator doesn’t need to worry about electronic property! If it exists as an asset, then it’s potentially property that belongs in the estate, which means that a beneficiary could potentially demand to receive it.

A third aspect of digital planning, which is distinct from the other two, is what I’m calling the process value or the administration value.

There’s a finality in closure. By this I mean the idea that the executor has a duty to not only find online property and distribute it, but also to resolve, shut down and close out online accounts, whether email accounts or some other kind of online presence. Just as an executor has a duty to return an apartment to the landlord, the executor theoretically – and the law is evolving on this – has a duty to deal with the online accounts.

A close-to-home example: my mother died recently, so imagine my surprise when I received an email from her saying that she had traveled to London and lost her passport, and I should wire her money so she could get back safely. Spam is always annoying, but never moreso than when it comes from your dead mother!

Thorough and thoughtful estate planning means planning for all assets, including so-called digital assets. Similarly, in an estate, an executor or administrator wants to be mindful of marshaling and managing not only real and tangible property, but also electronic/digital/online assets and rights.

Planning Process

Planning Process

Although there is no national legal consensus to guide digital estate planning, you can still develop an effective plan in consultation with your attorney. At the very highest level, this process involves the following steps: Completing a digital asset inventory, identifying a digital executor and consulting with an attorney, providing access to your digital assets, providing instructions, and granting authority.

A plan implies an architect, by Sarah Ross photography, CC BY NC 2.0
A plan implies an architect/
Step 1: Complete a digital asset inventory to identify your digital assets

What to include: Examples of items to include are:

    • Hardware: For example, flash drives, US bard drives, digital cameras, backup CDs/DVDs, Computers, iPads, iPods, and other devices.
    • Networking: Router information, wireless network names and passwords
    • Software: For example, financial programs such as Quicken or online software subscription accounts, such as to Adobe Cloud
    • File structures: Information to indicate how and where files are organized on your computers and other storage devices
    • Social networking, social analytics, social curation, sharing, and online reputation management: For example, Facebook, Twitter, HootSuite, Buffer, Pinterest, Scoop.It, Paper.Li Klout, Kred
    • Professional networking: For example, LinkedIn, Plaxo, BizNik
    • Photo sharing and video: For example, Flickr, SmugMug, Shutterfly, Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube, Vine
    • Music streaming and sharing: For example, Spotify and Pandora
    • Media and online entertainment/apps stores: For example, Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, or Windows App store
    • Online presence/personal branding: For example, any websites and associated webmaster/analytics accounts, blogs, online commerce sites (if you run an online business). For example, WordPress, Blogger, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, About.Me
    • Online backup/file storage: For example, Skydrive, Dropbox, Wikispaces, Box.Net, and Google Drive.
    • Online merchants: For example, Amazon, ebay, iTunes, Nordstrom, Starbucks, or Netflix. Also, any digital subscriptions to local or national newspapers or online magazines.
    • Online gaming/virtual worlds: World of Warcraft, Second Life, XBox
    • Financial planning accounts: This includes banking, retirement, investment, credit card, loan, and insurance accounts that are accessed online.
    • Email accounts
    • Student and library accounts
    • Utility bill accounts that are paid online
    • Travel-related accounts: These could include frequent flyer mileage accounts, and travel planning accounts such as TripIt, as well as travel loyalty/rewards programs such as Hilton Honors.

If you plan to store this information online, companies such as Legacy Locker and SecureSafe provide services for this purpose. For a list of companies and the services that they provide, see The Digital Beyond website’s helpful listing and pages 10 and 11 in Estate Planning in the Digital Age by law professor Gerry Bayer.

Important: Be aware that although online services are helpful as repositories for digital asset information and instructions, it is critical to consult an attorney to ensure that you transfer assets in a legal manner. As Gerry Bayer and Naomi Cahn state:

Clients may have signed up with an on-line asset management company and so be hesitant to address these assets in the estate planning process. Clients may believe the companies’ claims that they will be able to distribute digital assets to beneficiaries or to destroy assets that the client wishes to discontinue on her death. Clients need to understand that the legality of these actions is doubtful. Although these companies can be used to store information, other estate planning methods should be used to transfer assets.

For more information, see When You Pass on, Don’t Leave the Passwords Behind.

Step 2: Identify your digital executor and consult with an attorney

Choosing your digital executor: Your digital executor will carry out your end-of-life wishes for your digital estate. You may want to choose the same executor for your digital and physical assets, choose a different executor for your digital assets, or choose multiple individuals to perform the different tasks required to administer your digital estate. Whichever approach you choose, keep in mind that accessing online accounts and carrying out specific actions such as deleting an account or archiving information, requires technical knowledge and skill. Choose someone who has sufficient experience, is technically proficient, and adept at solving problems should they arise. That person should also be impartial so that they can carry out wishes that may be difficult for less impartial individuals (such as deleting accounts that you want deleted that certain family members may not want to delete for sentimental reasons).

It is important that your digital executor comply with applicable state and federal statutes and Internet service providers’ terms of service agreements. For example, depending on the terms of service of the email provider, if your digital executor accesses your email account without the email provider’s knowledge, that action could violate the providers’ terms of service and constitute identity fraud. Preventing such issues is one reason why it is critical to choose a skilled attorney.

Choosing your attorney: If you already have an estate planning attorney who is also experienced with digital estate planning, this is ideal. If you need help finding an attorney, a reputable bar association-sponsored lawyer referral service may be one option. For information, see the American Bar Association Consumers’ Guide to Legal Help. A high-quality directory of rated lawyers such as Avvo is another option.

Step 3: Provide access to your digital assets

If you have not already done so as part of Step 1, for each digital asset, note the information required to access it. For example, note the name and type of digital asset, and where applicable, the site URL, the user name that you use to sign in/log in to the account, your password, and any answers to secret questions, if required for account logins. If you used an online service when you completed your initial digital asset inventory, you may have entered this information as part of that process.

Step 4: Provide instructions on how to administer your digital assets

Instructions may include:

  • Notifying Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, and blog readers that you have passed away or are incapacitated.
  • Deactivating/closing social media profiles, or memorializing them. For example, Facebook and Google both provide ways for appropriate designated individuals to take specific actions as follows:
    • Facebook: Facebook provides an option to memorialize a deceased person’s profile. If you choose this option, this allows for friends to share their memories on your timeline and view content that you choose to share after you pass away or have become incapacitated. It also ensure that your memorialized timeline doesn’t appear in People You May know and other suggestions.
    • Google: In April this year, Google released Inactive Account Manager, which lets you share specific parts of your account data or notify one or more trusted contacts if your account has been inactive for a minimum of three months. The contact will be notified via email and if you choose to share your data, they will be provided with links to download your data, after their identify is verified.
  • Bequeathing information that you may want to be made available to specific people.
  • Closing or continuing websites: Designating someone to maintain or close your blog and perhaps archive important information, if allowable under the Internet service provider’s terms of service.
  • Specifying information that should not be deleted, such as valuable creative works completed or in progress, personally important photos, videos, or other content.
  • Posting a final online message that can be shared with your friends, family, and colleagues (an example of a moving final message is here). For example, you may want a photo album posted or a video. A growing number of online services and applications, such as ifidie, Recollect, and Bcelebrated, provide different ways to create an online legacy.
Step 5: Grant your digital executor(s) authority to administer your digital estate

This step is crucial and where you will want to work closely with your attorney, to ensure that your digital executor is legally authorized to carry out your digital estate planning wishes and he or she does not run afoul of applicable statutes, laws, and terms of service agreements.