Providing for your Pokémon in your Will Blog Defending Professionals Law Blog

Providing for your Pokémon in your Will

Everyone is talking about Pokémon Go but no one is asking the most important question of all – what happens to your Pokémon when you die?

Pokémon Go is a smartphone game which has been downloaded over 7.5 million times and has added £5.4 billion to the value of Nintendo. Until this week, it was only available in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. But as of 13 July 2016 for Android users (and 14 July for iPhone users) it is available in the UK.

The aim is to walk around the real world catching adorable virtual monsters. There are 250 to collect and some, such as the iconic yellow Pikachu, are particularly sought-after. It is therefore possible to build up a desirable collection, arguably on a par with a stamp or coin collection.

In fact, what you could end up with is a valuable “digital asset” which you may wish to pass down to your loved ones on your death.

More and more people are thinking about their digital assets when they make their Will. Some of these assets have financial value, such as PayPal accounts and bitcoins; others have sentimental value, such a photos or emails. There are also issues of privacy and identity theft.

In June 2016, STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) published new guidance for the public and professionals about digital assets.
So, what should you do to protect your digital legacy?

  1. Make a list of all your digital assets so that, on your death, the person dealing with your estate knows what they are and where to find them;
  2. Appoint someone you trust to deal with these assets on your death and make sure they know what you want them to do, for example which assets they should preserve and which they should destroy;
  3. Make sure that whoever is dealing with your digital assets is able to access them, for example by ensuring they have the passwords; and
  4. Do your research to make sure you know what the providers of all your digital assets will need your representative to do and make sure you give them clear guidance. Make sure that the language you use to appoint your representative will work for each provider.
Planned Departure - Manage your digital life and digital legacy

Planned Departure – Manage your digital life and digital legacy

Over 420 Facebook users die every hour. These users may also have email accounts, iTune accounts, Domains BitCoins or other digital assets.Ever wonder, what happens to their data and accounts after they pass away?Planned Departure solves this problem by ensuring that user, as a creator of these digital assets, have a place to manage and a mechanism to transfer these digital assets to the right people at the right time.

Business of death care gets a technology makeover

Business of death care gets a technology makeover

Death is big business.

Continue reading the main story

With more than half a million people in the UK dying each year, the funeral industry makes about £2bn in annual revenues, according to market research company Ibis World.

Nearly 1,500 businesses employ 20,105 people, and industry revenue is expected to grow by 4.7% by the end of 2014, as increased competition for burial space is slowly pushing up the price of cremations.

With such a large and lucrative market, it’s no surprise that tech firms have been eyeing up the death care and funeral industry.

Video wills

Your Last Will, for example, is an iPhone app that lets anyone create a last message for loved ones in the form of a “video will”, to be viewed after death.

You create and upload a private video will and are then issued your own QR code – a kind of smartphone readable bar code – which you give to a trusted confidant who is likely to outlive you.

After your death, your confidant signs in to the app using the specified QR code and receives an email containing a link to your last message video. This link is automatically sent to your chosen list of recipients.

Screengrab of public wills page on Your Last Will
Screengrab of public wills page on Your Last Will

Some people are leaving final messages to loved ones and the general public via iPhone apps

The company acknowledges that “in most countries video wills cannot replace written wills”, but for an additional fee, Your Last Will does provide the opportunity to have your video submitted for legal review in what it describes as “an easy process”.

“Death is obviously an unpleasant but unavoidable part of life and it’s much easier to leave a last message or last will via video than in the traditional way, which involves a lawyer and witnesses,” Wolfgang Gabler, chief executive and founder of Your Last Will, told the BBC.

He believes technology will continue to influence death care in the UK and across the world.

“There will be many new businesses around this theme in the near future. I already met with other start-ups that are working on other issues of life and death,” he says.

“Our goal is to make it really easy and comfortable for people dealing with this important subject.”

‘Multi-planetary species’

Some firms are more creative with their ideas. Celestis, for example, is a US-based company that uses rocket technology to blast human remains into space.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

There is an increasing number of apps being used by funeral directors”

National Association of Funeral Directors

The first “memorial spaceflight” took Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary to the stars in 1997.

Since then, the company has added a variety of options. A simple Earth orbit service will cost $4,995 (£2,930), but something more fancy, such as a lunar orbit, will cost $12,500.

And in 2016 the Voyager service will truly go where no-one has gone before.

Using solar sail technology – which uses radiation pressure from the sun as a means of propulsion – to power the flight, the idea is that the craft will travel on indefinitely into deep space.

Appropriately enough, the remains of Gene Roddenberry and his wife Majel, and James Doohan who played Scotty in the series, are part of the crew on this continuing mission.

Once the remains have been launched into the stratosphere loved ones can track the deceased in real time with live satellite feeds on the Celestis website.

Biographies may also be uploaded and DVDs of the launch are available as part of the package deal.

Ashes canisters in section of rocket
Ashes canisters in section of rocket

Small canisters of loved ones’ ashes are fitted inside the body of the rocket….

…before being blasted into space watched by friends and relatives

“We don’t think of our services as an expensive novelty, with prices beginning at $1,000 and the average cost of a funeral in the US reaching $8,000,” Celestis founder Charles Chafer told the BBC.

“But rather, we offer a compelling tribute for someone who has longed to travel in space as their final wish.

“We do believe that as humanity becomes a multi-planetary species we will take all of our rituals and memorials with us, including our funeral and memorial services, not as a solution to reduced available space on Earth but as part of a natural evolution.”

Bitcoin funeral

Technology is also being used in less bombastic ways, with some individuals paying for funerals with bitcoins, the digital crypto-currency.

One user of popular news aggregator Reddit described last year how he paid for his grandmother’s funeral with the currency.

Some undertakers have accepted bitcoins as payment for funerals

Kadhim Shubber, who writes for Bitcoin news site CoinDesk, is not surprised a funeral has been paid for with bitcoins, particularly as the currency is already being used in healthcare in various parts of the world, including London.

“On the whole we find that committed bitcoiners are keen to pay in bitcoin wherever they’re able. Already there are doctors in California and elsewhere who accept bitcoin payments for privacy reasons and a private practice in London does too,” he says.

Apps v tradition

The traditionally conservative funeral business is certainly becoming more technology aware, the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) believes.

“There is an increasing number of apps being used by funeral directors, and the NAFD has an arrangement with a company providing apps to our members,” a spokesman said.

“The vast majority of members have websites, so there is a growing number of ways funeral directors can reach and inform the public.”

For example, the NAFD’s free online obituary service, Forever Online, enables relatives and friends to inform everyone of a bereavement via the internet, complementing the usual newspaper announcements.

Funeral directors are having to move with the times

While “smart funeral software” from the likes of Cemneo is on the increase, the NAFD, which represents 80% of all funeral homes in the UK, says it has yet to see the swathes of new funeral and death-care-focused start-ups that Your Last Will’s Mr Gabler believes are on the horizon.

“Bereaved families are becoming more involved with funerals – how they should be conducted and the content of the ceremony – and there is a lot more personalisation of funerals than there has been previously.

“So the vast majority of funerals are still arranged face-to-face between the bereaved families and the funeral director,” the spokesman said.

It seems that for the time being, funerals will remain relatively traditional.

But it may not be long before many of us are booking funerals on our smartphones, watching pre-recorded “wills” on our tablets, and blasting loved ones into space, quietly monitoring their ashes orbiting the earth on our smart TVs, instead of visiting a dreary graveyard.

Identity Theft Safeguard

Handling digital assets in your estate plan: it’s the Wild West today

Shortly after comedy icon Robin Williams died, his daughter’s Twitter feed filled up with gruesome fake photos of her father. She was forced to temporarily abandon the social media site. As a result of the incident, Twitter was pressured into changing its policy: It now allows family members to request removal of a deceased relative’s online photos.

A good friend of my family passed away two years ago. While cleaning up his home, his brother stumbled upon some papers suggesting his brother had owned a large quantity of bitcoins (virtual currency) at the time of his death. We are now struggling to access the information and document his ownership. It’s an uphill battle, made more complicated because many of the companies and individuals we’re dealing with are located in Australia.

When University of Minnesota freshman Jake Anderson was found dead in a snowbank last year, his distraught parents tried to get access to his social media messages, cell phone data and email, hoping the information might clarify the circumstances of his death. The providers turned down their request. (Click here to see TV clip about this story.)

And then there’s the poster child of all cases, Ajemian v. Yahoo. John Ajemian died in a car accident in 2006. His siblings wanted to access his Yahoo email account password so they could notify friends of his passing. Yahoo denied the request …

Read the full article

How to give away your digital fortune

How to give away your digital fortune

Your 20,000-song iTunes library is valuable both monetarily and as an artifact of your life, so you’d like to leave it to your children. Legally, you probably can’t, at least not yet. But, as a practical matter, you can share your wealth in a limited fashion — as long as you plan ahead.

For those who purchase music, this digital asset may add up to a sizable chunk of change. “I have about 12,000 songs in my library. In theory, in today’s prices, that’s $15,000 worth of music,” notes Ken Moraif, a senior adviser at Money Matters, a wealth-management firm.

The problem is that generally you don’t actually own the digital music and books you buy on your computer and mobile devices — you’ve simply bought licenses to listen and view those products.

Plus, the rules governing your account will vary by service provider — it’s all in the fine print of those terms and conditions to which you agreed when you opened the account.

But there are some ways to share these assets with your heirs, and creating a digital estate plan may smooth the process. Read more here about creating a digital estate plan: Who gets your digital fortune when you die?

iTunes

The Apple AAPL, -0.87%   iTunes terms of service agreement generally states that your license is nontransferable and will end automatically if you fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.

Did you take your pills? Digital ‘Mother’ knows

(4:39)

Did you drink enough water today? A new device called Mother has motion and temperature sensors to remind you of your tasks. Rafi Haladjian, Sen.se CEO, which makes Mother, joins digits from the Consumer Electronics Show. Photo: Sen.se.

The agreement “doesn’t seem to contemplate a transfer of the license after death,” said Sharon Klein, managing director of family office services and wealth strategies at Wilmington Trust, in New York.

“It’s silent about what happens when someone dies. It just says you can’t transfer it, period,” she said.

Until the language changes — if it changes—or until state laws do a better job supporting executors’ ability to manage digital assets — your safest best might be to give your heirs the access information for your iTunes account. (The terms of service allow up to five computers on one account.)

Another option with some music files is to save them to your computer or a hard drive, and bequeath that to your heirs, but whether that will work depends on the type of music file.

E-books

Generally, you’re not going to be able to transfer your e-books to your heirs, because the service agreements usually say the license is nontransferable and e-books often are protected by digital rights management (DRM) software, so you can’t copy them.

But, like an iTunes account, you could simply give your Kindle or Nook or e-reader log-in credentials to an heir, and they can at least read the books you’ve already purchased, while your account remains active (which, according this New York Times opinion piece, may be a long time).

Bitcoins

If you own Bitcoins, it might take some computer expertise on your part to employ some of the highly secure strategies for passing on this digital currency — but there is also a quick and easy way.

Currently, many people store their Bitcoins in a digital wallet, usually via an app on their phone or laptop, said Jinyoung Englund, director of public affairs for the Bitcoin Foundation, a member-supported group that aims to standardize and promote Bitcoin, among other goals.

“If you store it in a digital wallet, you would just have to provide your user ID and your password [to your designated heir] and they can access your account,” Englund said.

But, while digital wallets do provide some level of security, there is the danger that hackers might access your account. To avoid that problem, it’s possible to pull your Bitcoins — which essentially consist of serial numbers — off the network and put them into “cold storage,” such as in a safe in your house or a bank safety deposit box, Englund said.

 

By

AndreaCoombes

Columnist

“You’ve completely taken [your Bitcoins] off line,” she said. And you can leave those assets to your heirs.

Currently, however, pulling Bitcoins off the network and putting them into cold storage requires some computer-science sophistication. “Because it’s such a new technology, the consumer-focused companies haven’t come along yet to build services to make it super easy,” she said.

Need help? Contact the Bitcoin Foundation via email: hello@bitcoinfoundation.org. Also, the Foundation is revamping its website; come February, the site will include a best practices section, including information on how to store your Bitcoins, among other information. Read this story for more tips on including Bitcoins in your estate plan.

Photo websites

If you’ve posted photos online that you want your heirs to receive, read your terms of service to see what the provisions are for an inactive account. But, it might be easier to simply make backup copies, store them in a safe place, and be sure your executor knows where to find such items.

“Maybe [your executor] can’t get access to Flickr, but if I’ve backed up all my photos on a hard drive, then it’s fine,” said Alexandra Gerson, a lawyer with Helsell Fetterman in Seattle.

Email

Grieving families are often shocked to find they can’t gain access to their loved one’s email messages. That said, some companies will provide copies of emails to an executor, though it can be a time-consuming and difficult process. In other cases, the account may simply be deleted.

For example, the terms of service for Yahoo email state that all rights to your account terminate on your death and that the data can be deleted.

Some estate-plan experts advise people to create a digital estate plan. You name a “digital executor” and state in your will that you’re giving that person the authority to deal with your digital assets. You provide that person with a list of your accounts, including each account’s username and password (such information should not be included in your will), plus instructions as to what you’d like done with each account.

“The mechanism that people are trying to use is to designate that person as an authorized user to try to make that designation compatible with the terms of service agreement and applicable laws,” Klein said.

“Whether providers respect that and it works perfectly or not is yet to be seen, but you have to do the best you can to make it as easy as possible for your designee to access the information,” she said.

That is, naming a digital executor is no guarantee. “Whether that works perfectly if there’s a terms of service agreement that conflicts with that, that’s unclear, but it’s certainly better to be proactive and nominate someone,” Klein said.

“Then that person has the ability to say, ‘This person authorized me to have access.’ That will certainly facilitate things after death,” she said.

Earlier this year, Google GOOG, -2.36%   eased this process by launching its Inactive Account Manager. The tool lets you control how your Gmail and any other Google accounts are handled after your death. You dictate who should be notified in the event your account is inactive for a specified period; you also decide whether your trusted contact should be able to download the data, or whether the account should be deleted.

Social-media sites

With your social-media accounts, at this point it appears most sites won’t give another user access to an inactive account, so you may want to ask your digital executor to manage your accounts on your behalf — that is, you provide a list of your log-in credentials for each account — though this could violate the terms of service.

If you don’t provide access to your account, here are the options available to your executor for two popular sites:

Facebook will delete an account or allow the user’s timeline to be memorialized once the company receives proof of death and proof of the relationship between the decedent and the person making the request. Read more here.

Twitter won’t give you access to a decedent’s account, but the company will delete an account, if certain information is provided. Read more here.

Read more:

 

Time (EDT)10:0011:0012:001:002:003:004:00

By

AndreaCoombes

Columnist

Your 20,000-song iTunes library is valuable both monetarily and as an artifact of your life, so you’d like to leave it to your children. Legally, you probably can’t, at least not yet. But, as a practical matter, you can share your wealth in a limited fashion — as long as you plan ahead.

For those who purchase music, this digital asset may add up to a sizable chunk of change. “I have about 12,000 songs in my library. In theory, in today’s prices, that’s $15,000 worth of music,” notes Ken Moraif, a senior adviser at Money Matters, a wealth-management firm.

The problem is that generally you don’t actually own the digital music and books you buy on your computer and mobile devices — you’ve simply bought licenses to listen and view those products.

Plus, the rules governing your account will vary by service provider — it’s all in the fine print of those terms and conditions to which you agreed when you opened the account.

But there are some ways to share these assets with your heirs, and creating a digital estate plan may smooth the process. Read more here about creating a digital estate plan: Who gets your digital fortune when you die?

iTunes

The Apple AAPL, -0.87%   iTunes terms of service agreement generally states that your license is nontransferable and will end automatically if you fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.

Did you take your pills? Digital ‘Mother’ knows

(4:39)

Did you drink enough water today? A new device called Mother has motion and temperature sensors to remind you of your tasks. Rafi Haladjian, Sen.se CEO, which makes Mother, joins digits from the Consumer Electronics Show. Photo: Sen.se.

The agreement “doesn’t seem to contemplate a transfer of the license after death,” said Sharon Klein, managing director of family office services and wealth strategies at Wilmington Trust, in New York.

“It’s silent about what happens when someone dies. It just says you can’t transfer it, period,” she said.

Until the language changes — if it changes—or until state laws do a better job supporting executors’ ability to manage digital assets — your safest best might be to give your heirs the access information for your iTunes account. (The terms of service allow up to five computers on one account.)

Another option with some music files is to save them to your computer or a hard drive, and bequeath that to your heirs, but whether that will work depends on the type of music file.

E-books

Generally, you’re not going to be able to transfer your e-books to your heirs, because the service agreements usually say the license is nontransferable and e-books often are protected by digital rights management (DRM) software, so you can’t copy them.

But, like an iTunes account, you could simply give your Kindle or Nook or e-reader log-in credentials to an heir, and they can at least read the books you’ve already purchased, while your account remains active (which, according this New York Times opinion piece, may be a long time).

Bitcoins

If you own Bitcoins, it might take some computer expertise on your part to employ some of the highly secure strategies for passing on this digital currency — but there is also a quick and easy way.

Currently, many people store their Bitcoins in a digital wallet, usually via an app on their phone or laptop, said Jinyoung Englund, director of public affairs for the Bitcoin Foundation, a member-supported group that aims to standardize and promote Bitcoin, among other goals.

“If you store it in a digital wallet, you would just have to provide your user ID and your password [to your designated heir] and they can access your account,” Englund said.

But, while digital wallets do provide some level of security, there is the danger that hackers might access your account. To avoid that problem, it’s possible to pull your Bitcoins — which essentially consist of serial numbers — off the network and put them into “cold storage,” such as in a safe in your house or a bank safety deposit box, Englund said.