How to bequeath Emblem3 to loved ones

How to bequeath Emblem3 to loved ones

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I was about to speak with my friend and author Peggy Hoyt recently about how happy I was that I completed my estate plan. I figured that getting an estate planning expert and author of books on the subject to “bless” my intentions would provide a level of confidence that I had considered everything.

“Dad, what happens to your iTunes songs and Kindle books if you pass on?”

No one can make you stop and reconsider every action you’ve ever done in life like your children.

When I informed my lovely daughter, who seemed to ask the question with less remorse about my demise, and more concern about ensuring that she continues to have access to her Emblem3 songs and Divergent e-books, that I didn’t know, it seemed that the call to Peggy would have to wait.

Did I need to be concerned about this? Do I need to consider my digital assets into my estate plan?

A recent article on the ally blog points out that, “Estate planning of digital assets is a relatively new focus for concern for both consumers and their attorneys — and something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Your heirs may not be able to find or access all of your digital assets if you don’t include them in your estate plan.”

The article states that 87% of adults use the Internet and I can’t speak for others, but I know that I have spend lots of money on songs and books that exist only in the Internet, accessible only with my password and personal information. Shouldn’t these be considered assets and something that falls under the purview of estate planning?

In the article, James Lamm, an estate planning and tax attorney at Gray Plant Mooty law firm in Minneapolis, Minn. said, “Digital assets hold both financial and sentimental value to family and friends that should be addressed in the estate planning and administration process.”

Lamm recommends that estate planning include a thorough and rigorous review of identifying a person’s digital properties and identifying which of them are “valuable or significant.”

“Additional obstacles with digital property that you don’t have with traditional property are passwords, encryption, computer crime laws, and data privacy laws. Any one of them can make it practically impossible to do anything with the digital property unless you’ve planned ahead,” Lamm said.

Listing Web assets, passwords, and all online accounts is a tedious exercise, but if digital assets exist there, you need to consider them or they will disappear into the ether, when you, ahem, do the same.

A necessary resource to assist you is the process is an article in Estate Planning magazine from May 2013 , which provides a clear outline of what items need to be considered. These include consideration of your email information, social-networking site information, blogs you maintain, online financial sites, digital photos and more.

Another resource is Lamm’s website, , where he provides great advice on the subject including explanations of the Terms of Services contracts from various online providers and how they may impact the ability for fiduciaries to access this information, even if they have the password information.

He reports that laws are changing as more people and authorities recognize that digital assets are part of a person’s estate. It’s an area that is worth watching. The ally article states that “Lamm stresses that until the laws are changed, taking the steps to safeguard your digital assets isn’t infallible. But it will make it easier to have your wishes followed if you put them in writing.”

Obviously I still have more work to do on my estate plan and with the consideration of digital assets, it’s clear that what we know about estate planning is changing. Well at least, my estate plan will look a lot different from what I originally thought and because of my book and song collections, clearly unique and different from others.

In her book, ” What’s the Deal with Estate Planning? ” (published by People Tested Publications, which I have ownership in), Peggy Hoyt makes clear that, “A primary goal of estate planning should be to create a plan that works-for you and your family. No two families are alike and no two plans will ever be alike.”

So before I consider my estate plan complete, I’ll have to consider those Emblem3 songs. Just don’t make me listen to them.

Will Your Digital Legacy Live On To Haunt Your Family?

Will Your Digital Legacy Live On To Haunt Your Family?

Happy Halloween Lucky 6 readers. With this most creepy holiday our team got thinking about all things scary and in particular – what happens to your online profiles when you die?

It has been estimated that within 50 years there will be more dead Facebook users than live ones (assuming the social media site is still operating).

It is easy to forget that what exists on the Internet is likely to be around for a long time after you die. Any images or information about you will be easily searchable for generations to come, and social media profiles may remain ‘live’. How would you feel if a social media site pinged you a reminder to wish a recently deceased loved one a happy birthday?

What happens to your online profiles after you die?

The statistic raises an important issue that most Internet users have not yet faced. What will happen to your Internet presence after death? Or, perhaps more pertinently, what would you like to happen? There may be some online activity you wish to pass on to family and other loved ones such as bank details or information stored in the Cloud. Other, shall we say, more private activity may be best dying with you.

There are currently no substantial legal procedures in place to protect your online presence while you are alive – still less for when you die. Digital legacies add a whole new layer of legal angst.

So how do you manage your digital legacy? Clearly, like writing a will, you must face this issue now before it’s too late.

New companies – known as legacy executors – are springing up to help people deal with legacy matters by acting as repositories for their customers’ usernames and passwords. This makes it easier for family and loved ones to access digital assets after the user’s death, assuming you have willed it to them.

Similarly, these companies can be instructed to close down the accounts that you don’t wish to pass on.

Facebook claims to have over 800 million daily users, thousands of whom die every day. How many leave behind ‘live’ accounts that their family find difficult to erase?

Your attitude may be: I wont be here, so I dont care. But as the issue throws up more intractable legal problems for executors and those left behind, this will become a major headache in the coming years.

However, Facebook is making progress. Their death policy states:

“We will process certain special requests for verified immediate family members, including requests to remove their loved one’s account [but] requests will not be processed if we are unable to verify your relationship to the deceased person.


Verifiable documentation includes a birth certificate, death certificate and/or proof that you are the lawful representative of the deceased or his/her estate. With the family’s consent, Facebook may also transform the profile into a memorial page for e-mourning of the deceased.

Twitter and LinkedIn also say they will remove the profiles at the request of a friend, relative or colleague of the deceased user, with sufficient proof.

If you spend a lot of time on Google+ you may wish to acquaint yourself with a feature called Inactive Manager Account. By activating it, users may shut down or transfer their account to a trusted person after a given period of time.

But other organisations/online accounts may never be shut down if your family don’t know you hold them, or are unfamiliar with the particular software used.

Act now. You can take steps to ensure that your digital legacy lives on according to your wishes.

Make a directory of all your online services

  • banks
  • shops
  • social media
  • e-mail accounts
  • directories

Store your Online Directory with your Will and Letter of Wishes

  • Use the Online Directory to specify what you want to happen to each account
  • Online bank accounts – These should automatically shut down once the normal bank account is closed. To be on the safe side, specify in your Letter of Wishes that your online account should also be deactivated.
  • E-mail accounts – Request to have these closed unless they are shared.
  • Social media pages – Choose between closing down the account or turning it into a memorial page.
  • Professional directories – Request that these profiles are deleted.
  • Online shops – Close these accounts so that your sensitive banking information and personal details are deleted.
  • Regular online payments – Cancel monthly subscriptions.

How would you like to manage your digital legacy? Are you going to include it in your will?

We believe it is also important to remember that it is not all doom and gloom. Going forward into the distant future all these online profiles will make for a most interesting insight into our daily lives. At Lucky 6 Marketing we see our social media profiles as being a diary and look forward to these diaries keeping our memory alive for centuries to come.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Digital death is still a problem. A widow’s battle to access her husband’s Apple account

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: What happens to your

Experts are urging us all to think about what will happen to our ‘digital footprint’ after we die

Many of us turn to the virtual world to mark major life events – graduating from school, scoring a promotion, getting married or having a baby.

But what happens to your “digital legacy” after you die?

Grieving family members and friends would no doubt be aghast to come across a nasty comment about a departed loved one on their Facebook page or see a troll attacking their Twitter account.

So as morbid as it may sound, lawyers and web experts are urging people to include specific instructions in their will about what happens to the digital footprint they leave.

“In an age where digital data has increasing economic and sentimental value, it is sensible to leave clear instructions in your will about what should happen to, for example, social media content after death,” said Robert Rhoda, a dispute resolution lawyer with law firm Smyth & Co in association with RPC.

Our digital afterlife is not something most people think of and tech companies are still grappling with policies to adequately deal with the issue.

It’s a relatively new area of the law, Rhoda said, adding that people should consider leaving a “digital legacy” to avoid difficulties for those left behind to deal with the issue.

“Administering digital assets and social media content is a novel legal issue,” he said.

“Leaving a ‘digital legacy’ enables your personal representatives to liaise with service providers in line with your wishes. This is preferable to leaving passwords with relatives, which can cause them, often unwittingly, to breach laws related to the misuse of computers and data privacy.”

In Britain, the Law Society of England and Wales has started advising people to leave instructions on what should happen to their social media and other online accounts when they die in order to make it easier for family members to piece together their digital estate.

But Rhoda warned that the virtual world was not afforded the legal status of tangible assets.

“Social media accounts don’t have the same legal status as fixed assets, which form part of an estate, and it is not always clear who ‘owns’ them or, rather, who has the right to access them, once the user has died,” Rhoda said.

In recent years, several cases have emerged to test the law.

In 2005, the mother of a US soldier who died in Iraq went through a long legal battle with Yahoo to gain access to his email account.

In 2011, the family of a 15-year-old boy who committed suicide spent years in and out of court to gain access to his Facebook account, arguing that they wanted to see if there were any hints on his page that would explain his decision to take his own life.

In Australia, a recent study by a government body that specialises in wills and guardianship found that while nine out of 10 people have social media accounts, just one in five have spoken to their loved ones about what should happen to their online profiles when they die.

Lokman Tsui, assistant professor of communications at Chinese University, says there needs to be more awareness of the issue.

“This is something that is really critical but that not a lot of people have given much thought to,” said Tsui, whose research areas include new media and how policies should deal with emerging technologies.

“Some of our most private thoughts and conversations are in our emails and social networks but very few people have thought about what happens to that stuff when they die. This is a new area and there are no ‘norms’ that have crystallised about it.”

The topic raises a raft of issues involving data privacy, ownership and the security of a dead person’s account.

Tsui, who used to work at Google as head of free expression for the Asia-Pacific region, said the search engine introduced an “inactive account manager” last year. The feature allows the account holder to give other people access to their Google profile after they die.

Facebook, which has 1.3 billion users, offers two options: the account can be deleted permanently upon the family’s request or it can be converted into a memorial profile.

When an account is memorialised, sensitive information such as contact details and status updates are removed. No one can log into the account but friends and family can leave posts on the wall in remembrance.

Jed Brubaker, an academic at the University of California, Irvine who is researching death, identity and social networks, said this Facebook option was a double-edged sword.

“Memorialised profiles can be powerful places where the deceased’s social network can gather and memorialise the life of their friend,” he said.

“But in my research, unexpected encounters with deceased profiles has been the most troubling aspect of post-mortem profiles continuing to exist on Facebook.

“People can stumble across posts made to post-mortem profiles in their ‘newsfeed’, mixed in with other casual social media content. These encounters can be alarming, especially when a person is not expecting to see this kind of content.”

In its policy, Facebook says it tries to prevent memorialised accounts from appearing in ways “that may be upsetting to the person’s friends and family”.

A spokesman for Facebook, which declined to reveal how many profiles have been memorialised, said they “give people a platform to remember and celebrate the life of their loved ones after their passing”.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has a similar policy to its mother company.

LinkedIn has an online form that allows a profile of a dead person to be removed and Twitter’s policy says an account can be deactivated by an immediate family member or someone who has been authorised to act on behalf of the estate.

Yahoo, which is popular in Hong Kong, will deactivate an account once staff can verify documents such as a death certificate. Access to the account for third parties is not allowed.

A spokesman for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said that under the city’s laws, personal data was defined only as information which related to a living person.

“When the records relate to a deceased person and no living individual, they do not contain personal data” and were not subject to data protection laws, he said.

Two years ago, Hong Kong lawyer Ryanne Lai Hiu-yeung co-founded an internet start-up called Perpetu to tackle the issue.

Services offered include sending farewell messages on Twitter when you die, the deletion of your emails or their transfer to an authorised person, and deletion of your Facebook account.

The business is still operating but Lai says she is no longer actively promoting it. About 2,000 people signed up and about half were from Hong Kong.

“Most of them are in the ‘internet generation’ so I won’t say they are too young to think about death,” Lai said. “To me, this is more about life than death – it’s about how much you treasure your online presence and content that you create on a day-to-day basis.”

Richard Norridge, of law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, says the intrinsic value of our digital assets is still unexplored territory and someone’s digital legacy can come in many forms.

“It may be music or films held online, virtual currency or perhaps online accounts,” he said.”For many, it still does not form part of their thinking when they prepare their will, perhaps because those engaged in estate planning concentrate on the assets of greatest value.”

Norridge said Facebook’s memorialisation option was a fraught one. “The account is preserved in that it can still be viewed, but no one can log into that account and accounts cannot be modified. Thus if unwelcome comments are posted, they are memorialised, too,” Norridge said.

Learn How to Preserve Your Data with Take Control of Your Digital Legacy

Digital Estate Planning

When people think about estate planning, they are typically concerned with the distribution of physical assets at their deaths.  However, most people fail to consider (and plan for) their digital assets.

Digital assets are digital property that has to do with our electronic devices, and  includes all of the content that we own and have stored electronically  In other words, digital assets may include the content in our online bank and credit card accounts; music, movies, pictures and books in electronic devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets, and in our email and social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

Without a plan in place, you risk burying your family in red tape as they try to get access to and deal with your online accounts that may have sentimental, practical or monetary value. If you have an email account, your emails might be deleted before your family has a chance to review them. In other cases, maybe your family gains access to emails that you’d rather they didn’t see.  Same goes with the content of a Facebook account.

Additionally, certain industry estimates place the average value of a person’s digital assets at around $30,000.  It’s clearly not only an issue of family photos and other sentimental assets. If you have an online-only bank account or a PayPal account (or Bitcoins), your executor may never know about that account if not for your digital estate plan.

But planning for online assets can be complicated: These accounts often are governed by the terms-of-service agreement to which you agreed upon opening the account. Often, service providers have created those agreements to comply with federal laws that limit access to account information to authorized users.  Plus, most state laws don’t offer specific support to executors in taking control of digital assets. Next year, Florida is expected to adopt a law that, once enacted, would give estate representatives and trustees easier access to digital assets, making it easier to retrieve a loved one’s stored data.

Why your digital photos might die before your grandkids see them

Why your digital photos might die before your grandkids see them

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My great-grandfather was Popeye. I discovered that from old photographs my father found in his childhood home.

They were stored with a newspaper article from 1938 describing how Jonathan Wagstaff was inspired to become a Popeye impersonator after winning the title of “Homeliest Man in California” at a male bathing beauty contest in Venice Beach.

Jonathan Wagstaff
Jonathan Wagstaff, the author’s great-grandfather, in Popeye and regular attire.

Keith Wagstaff

These days, it’s hard to imagine documents like that being stored in a box. The photos might be kept on a hard drive or posted on Facebook. Instead of a printed article, you might save a link to a story online.

The problem? Hard drives can be unreliable and Internet companies sometimes fail — taking your memories with them.

Hard drives, hard times

“The question of, ‘How long does data live on a hard drive?’ is a tricky one,” Ahmed Amer, an associate professor of computer engineering at Santa Clara University, told TODAY.

Digital family photos should be just fine for a few years. But when you start talking decades — like the 76 years my great-grandfather’s photos lasted — things get complicated. Your typical hard drive uses magnets to write information. With older hard drives, that can be a problem.

“Just like a credit card, you don’t want to put it next to a magnet, because what you have on the magstripe will be erased,” he said.

It’s not only magnets that you have to worry about. Heat, a spilled cup of coffee and other environmental factors can degrade the information on a hard drive.

Video: TODAY brings you a roundup of “what were they thinking” moments captured in some truly odd holiday images.

Newer hard drives are less susceptible to those factors, according to Ethan Miller, the Symantec presidential chair in storage and security at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In fact, the data on them should be fine for decades. The actual hard drive, however, will probably break before then.

“A hard drive is a physical device,” Miller told NBC News. “Things like the lubricant and bearings will degrade over time.”

Like a car, it’s a good idea to take stored hard drives out for a spin every so often. Stored unused in a closet or attic, the mechanical parts in a hard drive can break down over the course of a year or two. At most, hard drives are built to last around five to seven years, Miller said.

Another option is saving documents on a CD or Blu-ray Disc, preferably in a cool, dry area. (Anyone who has left a favorite CD on their dashboard knows why). But those break down over time as well.

Burning a CD or DVD involves heating up a layer of dye with a laser. As it does with photographs and clothing, dye on a DVD fades, causing those cherished photos to degrade.

“There are plenty of CDs and DVDs that were burned 10 to 15 years ago that are already bad,” Miller said.

The tech, it is a-changin’ 

“A lot of people, when they think of data storage, they think, ‘Will it survive?'” Amer said. “That’s really just a small part of it.”

Hard drives are vulnerable. So are CDs. But even if you carefully store your data on a disc that can withstand time, there is the chance that, in five years, nobody will be able to access that data.

“If I gave you a LaserDisc today and told you there was a lot of cool stuff on it, what would you do?” Miller said.

It was only 20 years ago that people could go to the store and buy a LaserDisc player. These days, you can pretty much only find them on eBay. Floppy discs, VHS tapes and eight-track cartridges are just a few example of other defunct technologies. Chances are that the computer cables you used 15 years ago don’t work with hard drives today.

Ultimately, Amer said, rapidly evolving technology could pose a bigger threat to your data than a failing hard drive.

Living on a cloud

For many, a good solution is the cloud. Facebook has a team of professionals ensuring that the servers storing your photos are kept in tip-top shape. Their business depends on it, after all. They are a lot safer there than on DVDs in a box in your closet.

There are a lot of other options for people who want to store their photos online, including Dropbox, Google Drive and Flickr. While disk drives and computer cables might change, it’s a good bet that the Internet will be around in 50 years.

That doesn’t mean your data is safe. Remember Friendster? Kodak Gallery? Yeah, you aren’t getting your photos back from them anytime soon. And transferring information from a dying website to a new one isn’t always easy. If you store your photos online, make sure to check those sites often.

Cloud services that charge for online storage are usually a good bet, Miller said, because they can just charge more if costs go up, instead of discontinuing a free product that is no longer profitable.

Doing things the old way

There are some radical solutions that the next generation might use to make sure their memories last hundreds of years. In New Mexico, Norsam Technologies etches data onto nickel plates on a microscopic scale — almost like creating incredibly tiny, dense music records. It’s called Rosetta-HD.

It might be cool, but there is no telling whether it will catch on. Right now, technology doesn’t have an easy solution for long-term storage. Digitally storing photos is no guarantee that your grandchildren or even your children will be able to look at them.

As for photos of my great-grandfather, my family keeps them on a hard drive, cloud service and in a good, old-fashioned box. Apparently, that is the smart thing to do.

“Going with a diversity of approaches is really the way to go,” Miller said. “It sounds really weird as a computer scientist saying this, but if they’re photos you really, really want your grandchildren to see, print them out.”