Thinking about retirement? Don’t forget about your tech.

Thinking about retirement? Don’t forget about your tech.

Thinking about retirement? Don’t forget about your tech.

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technology and retirees, boss magazine

By Anne-Frances Hutchinson

Here’s an open secret about Americans on the cusp of retirement age: They know how to use technology. Having been in the workforce as the digital age gestated from a fever dream into the driver of nearly every aspect of work and life in the developed world, this cohort understands its transformative power at a level digital natives have yet to grasp. Over the next decade, roughly 132 million Americans 50 and older will spend over $84 billion annually on technology.

As they approach retirement, affluent, well educated seniors are still driving technological development, participating in the digital economy as it grows and changes, and preparing for an aging process that will be largely dependent on emerging technologies to increase satisfaction, comfort, and life expectancy.

However, one of the profound changes retirement brings is access to technology. Leaving the workplace can mean losing a wealth of expensive support, from high speed internet connections and the software programs that allow seamless communication, to hardware that can be impossible to afford on a budget. And yes, that includes the person in IT who knows how to convert documents into PDFs. (Here’s another deeply held secret from a boomer: They absolutely know how to do that. They just love to see your reaction when they ask for your help. Eyerolls are always funny.)

technology and retirees, boss magazine

Teasing aside, here are five critical considerations to make before transitioning out of the tech rich workplace.

  1. Make cyber security a priority. The loss of a workplace IT infrastructure means heightened exposure to hacking, so deepening your personal knowledge about security breaches and investing in affordable, personal use security tools is a must. Don’t be put off by any implied condescension you might perceive by seeking simplified help – Internet 101.org is a great place to start the process.
  2. Forget about remembering passwords. Leaving the office shouldn’t mean swapping strong protection of digital assets for passwords that are easy to remember and a breeze for hackers to exploit. Encrypted password managers such as 1Password provide affordable protection, generous storage, and email support.
  3. Enroll in autopay. Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean the bills stop. Making sure they get paid automatically, on time, every month will take a huge weight off your shoulders. On the flip side, any income you have still have coming in: social security, a pension, etc., you can arrange to be automatically deposited in the account of your choosing. Being retired means you should be out there enjoying life, not spending several hours a week doing amateur accounting.
  4. Set up online trading. You want your money to last through a long retirement. Now that you have more time, you might want to take a more hands-on approach to your investments. Services such as Ally Invest and E-Trade make it simple and easy to manage your portfolio and do self-directed trades on a daily basis.
  5. Compromise smartly. The temptation to sacrifice capability for cost can be very compelling, especially when it comes to smartphones. While there is a fun new crop of flip phones hitting the market that may take you back to the simpler days of flip up and gab, like the updated foldable Motorola Razr, prioritize the features that are most important to you — whether it’s a great camera, the ability to use multiple apps, or mil-std ruggedization — and make sure the phone of your choice makes the grade. You’ll want something that can still keep up with your lifestyle and let you video chat with the grandkids.
  6. Think before you ditch. Switching away from a “does it all” desktop system to a tablet or laptop may make sense from a portability standpoint, but be sure your computer investments match the quality of life you’re expecting. Desktops can be much cheaper to buy than laptops, giving you the freedom to buy both. Desktop performance is better, more flexible, and far more robust than tablets; laptops that offer equivalent desktop performance are typically cumbersome and heavy despite being optimized for mobility. If you’re a gamer, crafter, or have a penchant for art, having a desktop in your post-work tech arsenal will be a very worthwhile spend.
  7. Plan your digital estate. You’re planning to leave your work environment, not your entire life, but now is the time to think about what may happen to your digital identity and it’s a risky aspect of estate planning to neglect. In the Digital Cheat Sheet, Everplans recommends the following steps to take:
  • Make a list of all your digital assets and make a plan on how they should be accessed after your passing. This includes your personal data, passwords, and hardware.
  • Choose an executor for these assets who will follow your wishes on erasing, preserving, or sharing data, and with whom you want your digital legacy to be shared.
  • Store this information where it can be readily accessed by a trusted family member, attorney, or your appointed executor.
  • Legalize your wishes. With the exception of Louisiana, Kentucky, and the District of Columbia, there are state provisions for digital asset legalization. Work with your estate planner to incorporate your digital assets into your will. Remember: Never include passwords or private data in your will, as it is a public document that anyone can access.
technology and retirees, boss magazine

Retirement isn’t the end of your life, it’s the beginning of enjoying what you’ve worked so hard for. Set yourself up for success much the same way you did in your career. There’s a whole world of things to do that you might have missed out on. A smart retirement will enable you to make the most of your time while living on the go. Get after it!

Manage your digital afterlife

Manage your digital afterlife

Manage your digital afterlife

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Have you ever thought about the fact that your ‘digital estate’ may incorporate just as many items as your material belongings? Everything from music, photos, accounts, social media profiles and attempted memoirs rest on the cloud. That’s a lot of personal stuff to manage upon one’s death, much like a house full of cherished possessions.

These days, there’s just as much need for a ‘digital executor’ as there is for one in a traditional sense. Here’s a look at how to manage your digital afterlife.

Consider your wishes

First thing’s first, what do you want to happen with your accounts when you die? Much the same as your Will, deciding on this beforehand saves your family and friends from any doubt about your wishes. For example, do you want your social media accounts deleted or continued, perhaps for business or memorial purposes?

Have a think about all your accounts, what they contain, and the best course of action for either continuing them or shutting them down. This way, you can leave instructions as to how you’d like them managed. As an added bonus of being prepared, this is a great way to clean up your ‘digital estate’ now, as it’s easy to forget just how many unused or ineffective accounts we have!

Give someone your passwords

If there’s someone you absolutely trust, giving your login details to them is by far the easiest method of ensuring your wishes are carried out, whether that’s to keep or delete accounts. This is particularly true for social media sites, as even family members aren’t given access to passwords.

This makes it easy for someone to delete your accounts, update them and keep an eye on them in case of spam or hackers. Don’t want to give anyone your passwords right now? Research password management services that let you appoint a nominee who’ll gain access to your passwords upon request, in the case of death or incapacity.

Research the options for different social media platforms

Depending on the social media platforms you use, different rules apply to account deactivation and their ongoing use. First of all, make sure family or friends know which accounts you have and what you’d like done with them. One of the most popular options is to have an account memorialised, so the content remains visible to those it was shared with in the first place.

When you nominate a legacy contact on Facebook, through the Settings and Security tabs, that person can respond to friend requests and add posts to your profile. You can change the nominated legacy contact at any time. It’s possible to memorialise Instagram accounts, however, they can’t be changed. Twitter allows for deactivation, but no one will be able to gain access to the account unless you’ve given them your login details.

Make a detailed list of your digital accounts and devices

Along with social media, and presuming financial and insurance accounts will be in the hands of a power of attorney, you could have accounts including:

  • Email addresses
  • E-readers
  • Shopping accounts
  • Websites and blogs
  • Copyrighted materials
  • Video sharing accounts
  • Online storage accounts
  • Subscription accounts
  • Domain names

Keep a record of them and forward this to the appropriate people, including logins and passwords so they can be easily deactivated or managed. This includes digital assets that may require passwords to access, such as external hard drives, tablets, smartphones and digital music players. With the information about everything ‘digital’ all recorded in one place, it’ll be easy for friends and family to manage.

Back everything up

Whether you view it as a shame or a fantastic convenience, many of us don’t have photo albums anymore, let alone handwritten letters. Consider compiling cherished memories and backing them up on a hard drive, specifically for this purpose. This way, you don’t run the risk of anything becoming lost in the cloud, in the case of complications with retrieving passwords or information.

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Ask Kip: Create a digital estate plan

Ask Kip: Create a digital estate plan

Ask Kip: Create a digital estate plan

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Q: What will happen to my social media or other online accounts after I die?

A: What will happen to these online accounts after your death depends on the laws in your state, the types of accounts involved and the terms of service governing the accounts. An executor does not automatically gain access to the accounts unless the deceased person has made specific arrangements. And heirs often find that they don’t have clear authority to access or manage a family member’s accounts. But you can take steps to increase the likelihood that your digital footprint will be handled according to your wishes.

You’ll need to make a list of what you have, name someone to act on your behalf, and provide your designee with access and instructions. Start by creating an inventory of your digital assets, including all of your online accounts. As you create a list of the accounts and their passwords, note your wishes or instructions for any you would like handled in a specific way. For example, you may request that your social media accounts be deleted or that digital photos stored in the cloud be shared with specific people.

Problems may still arise. Passwords expire, people forget to update their lists, and many sites require two-factor authentication that could go to a cell phone or email address that is no longer accessible, says Sharon Hartung, author of Your Digital Undertaker. Or a website’s terms of service agreement may prohibit anyone other than the original user from accessing the account. Many sites delete accounts upon receiving notice that a user has died.

In recent years, most states have adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which allows you to designate a legal representative to access your digital assets after death. You can provide that access through a will, power of attorney or trust.

A small but growing number of online services have started to offer users a way to allow access to their accounts after they die. Facebook, for example, allows users to have their accounts deleted upon death or to designate a digital heir with the right to manage portions of the account, which will be turned into a memorial page. Google will let you select up to 10 trusted contacts who can access your Gmail, photos and more if your account is inactive for several months.

(Kaitlin Pitsker is an associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)

The digital estate - planning for the modern age

The digital estate – planning for the modern age

The digital estate – planning for the modern age

Click here to view original web page at The digital estate – planning for the modern age

We all own more and more intangible assets, particularly in the context of the digital age. While a traditional estate may contain an apartment, a car, a boat, and many movable assets, a modern estate also consists of various digital assets, which one might not immediately think about.

These may include:

  • online businesses and websites
  • computer source code
  • crypto assets (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum)
  • documents in the cloud (e.g. on Dropbox)
  • software licenses
  • internet domain names
  • social media accounts (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat)
  • email accounts (e.g. Gmail, Outlook, etc.)
  • ebooks (e.g. on Kindle)
  • music, audiobooks and podcasts (e.g. on iTunes)
  • movies (e.g. on Amazon Prime)
  • blogs (e.g. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Medium)
  • video channels (e.g. on YouTube)
  • photos on dedicated sites (e.g. on Imgur, Flickr, 500px)

These digital assets can have a significant financial value, such as bitcoins for example. However, often they will at least have a sentimental value for the testator’s relatives (such as the deceased’s photos in the cloud). In any case, they should be given the appropriate attention in estate planning and administration.

An inventory of digital assets and passwords prevents them from being lost forever

What needs to be considered when planning and administering the digital estate? First of all, it is important to find out what actually belongs to the digital estate of the testator. Ideally – but rarely in practice – the testator has created an inventory of digital assets during his or her lifetime. This inventory should also contain all the testator’s logins and passwords. Access to the testator’s email account is particularly important because it often is the key to accessing other websites. If the testator has not taken precautions, the passwords on various websites that the testator used during his or her lifetime can be reset and then accessed through the email account (provided that this is not illegal as is the case in some jurisdictions).

Particularly with crypto assets, it is essential that the testator provides his or her heirs with the “private keys”. Otherwise, such blockchain-based assets are basically lost forever. Of the approximately 18 million bitcoins currently in circulation, around 4 million have been lost through various combinations of sloppiness and bad luck. Passwords should also be written down for the heirs to find: take for example the case of Leonard Bernstein, whose memoirs have been encrypted on his computer since his death in 1990, with his heirs still trying to figure out what his passwords are.

Lack of clarity on rights of the deceased creates legal uncertainty and practical challenges

Another interesting question that requires clarification: which rights did the deceased really have (and thus which rights will the heirs have)? Providers such as Google, Facebook and others typically have terms of service (TOS). Upon closer examination, one will often be surprised to find that the rights of the testator were limited. For example, the terms may provide that he or she granted the provider an unlimited license to uploaded pictures and videos, or vice versa, that the individual has only obtained a license to the purchased films and music (which may even be limited to the purchaser’s own lifetime). A famous example is the case of the actor Bruce Willis, who apparently had a huge library of iTunes music and was annoyed that he could not leave it freely to his heirs – because the license granted to him by Apple was to expire with his death. Social media platforms take very different approaches. Some delete an account upon the death of the owner, others allow the account to be taken over by the heirs without restriction, and still others freeze the account and display a notice of the owner’s death. Innovative in this context is Google’s “Inactive Account Manager”, which allows the testator to determine who should have access after his or her death.

It is clear that the digital estate will continue to raise many interesting questions in the coming decades – both practical and legal. Individuals planning their estate should give sufficient consideration to their digital assets, so that their heirs are not left with riddles to solve.

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Millennials, It is Time to Educate and Protect Your Digital Relatives

Millennials, It is Time to Educate and Protect Your Digital Relatives

Millennials, It is Time to Educate and Protect Your Digital Relatives

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Digital Parents, Digital Grandparents, Digital Death, Digital Estate Planning, Identity Theft, End-of-Life Services
Digital Parents, Digital Grandparents, Digital Death, Digital Estate Planning, Identity Theft, End-of-Life Services

Technology for all

“How do I send a Facebook message?”

“Can you help me with the computer?”

“I can’t get into my phone!”

Sound familiar? For many millennials, older relatives have spent a large percentage of their lives helping, teaching and supporting you. Now it’s time for millennials to teach and support your now digital relatives.

How many of your parents, grandparents and other relatives are now online and using technology? According to Pew Research Center, 73% of American adults ages 65 or older are internet users. That is up 14% from the year 2000, just a decade ago. To younger generations, the value of technology and the internet made them early adopters to integrating various technologies into their daily lives; it is clear that older Americans are now on board as well.

Millennials must help your older relatives understand the dark side of technology

With all things in life, there are pros and cons. Technology is no different. Growing up with technology, Millennials have an easier time understanding the negative sides. Identity theft, fraud and stolen financial information are just some examples of what can easily happen if the proper steps and precautions are not taken. Older generations need help understanding how they can easily fall victim to cyber crime, even after death. Have you ever found yourself saying one of the following to an older relative?

  • Do not click links in emails from people you do not know
  • Even more confusing, do not click links in emails from familiar sources that seem “off”; go to the websites directly
  • You must use a passcode for your phone
  • Do not use the same password for all your online accounts

What is the value of your digital information, assets and footprint?

In a survey conducted by McAfee, they found that 88% of consumers own multiple digital devices, with 62% owning three or more and 20% owning five or more.

More than half of consumers surveyed (51%) spend 15 hours or more on their digital devices. The study concluded that the global average worth of assets stored on our devices is over $35,000. The study was further expanded by Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, who state for Americans, the average financial worth of digital assets is over $55,000 per person.

These studies are interesting and encourage you to value your digital assets along with your physical property. While it is easy to define the value of your laptop, phone and other devices, the harder piece of this equation is how do you place a value on your irreplaceable items (such as photos or documents), or financial information that could be stolen?

Help your relatives protect and plan for their digital estate

Take a moment and think about all the financial, personal, sensitive or private information that your relatives may have on their devices:

  • Credit cards
  • Tax documents
  • Social Security numbers (for all family members, likely including yours)
  • Medical records (for all family members, likely including yours)
  • Banking information
  • Retirement information
  • Investment information
  • Private conversations
  • Private and personal data
  • Private location data

According to AARP, it can take six months for financial institutions, credit-reporting bureaus and the Social Security Administration to receive, share or register death records. Widely available funeral announcements create the perfect scenario for criminals to strike, and it makes grieving loved ones a prime target for identity theft and other types of financial and digital theft. It has become imperative that your older relatives start to plan properly for their digital death.

Did you know that according to AARP, close to 800,000 deceased individuals are targeted for identity theft annually? That’s almost 2,200 a day. With a name, address and birth date, criminals can purchase a Social Security number for as little as $10. Stealing the identity of the deceased is called ghosting, and you can learn more about it here.

Digital estate planning is about you, too

Digital estate planning is more than just protection from criminals targeting your deceased loved ones; it is also about organization. When a loved one passes, it is a difficult and emotional time for family members. The last thing you want to worry about is where to find important information such as a will, or safeguard family memories such as photos. When you take time to plan in advance using a central storage location such as an Info Vault, your relatives will enjoy peace of mind knowing that all their important information, documents, passwords, photos and other digital items are safe.

You will also benefit from your relatives planning for their digital estate. While grieving and dealing with their post-life matters, you will not have to scramble around looking for their password and other important information, during what is one of life’s most emotional and stressful times.

Talk to your relatives

The time is now to talk to your parents and other relatives about planning and protecting their digital lives. You never know when your time will be up, so take action today. Talk to your relatives about how easy and wide-spread end-of-life related crimes can be. In the same conversation, explain how they can organize both their traditional and digital estates at the same time using digital estate planning services. Taking proactive measures now will provide both you and your relatives with the peace-of-mind knowing that their important items will be safely transferred in an organized manner, making one the hardest times in life a little easier.

How Final Security can help

Final Security can help protect your relatives by providing them with the tools they need to properly plan their estate and control their digital information and assets upon death.

Info Vault

Final Security’s Info Vault is a place where loved ones can store their digital information:

  • Store usernames and passwords to any service (files and notes can be saved with each entry).
  • Store their photos: save a single, memorable photo or a collection to pass on.
  • Store your documents, such as a will, or a collection of information their beneficiaries will need.
  • Create an efficient, organized and central place for their beneficiary to find all their important information after their passing.

Device Cleaning

With Final Security’s Device Cleaning service, they can have that peace of mind that their registered devices will be remotely wiped upon the confirmation of their passing. Our service will ensure that their sensitive and private information will not be seen by anyone but their designated beneficiary. We will protect not only their legacy but provide protection to their family and friends by making sure their private information does not get into the wrong hands.

Social Media Cleaning

Social Clean is Final Security’s service that allows you to know that your online accounts do not live on the web forever. Not only does this service protect their legacy and information, it also protects family and friends. Bad actors are looking to capitalize on the window of time where your death may not be publicly known or officially recognized. In this window of time, your family and friends could fall victim to a scam that looks like it is coming from your account.

Americans 60 and older are spending more time in front of their screens than a decade ago. (2019). Pew Research Center. From: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/18/americans-60-and-older-are-spending-more-time-in-front-of-their-screens-than-a-decade-ago

Are Your Digital Assets Protected? -. (2019). Responsibleadvisors.com. From: https://responsibleadvisors.com/are-your-digital-assets-protected/

How Do Your Digital Assets Compare? | McAfee Blogs. (2013). McAfee Blogs. From: https://www.mcafee.com/blogs/consumer/family-safety/digital-assets/