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.

Click here to view original web page at Thinking about retirement? Don’t forget about your tech.

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!

What happens to our data when we die? Elaine Kasket on a digital dilemma

What happens to our data when we die? Elaine Kasket on a digital dilemma

What happens to our data when we die? Elaine Kasket on a digital dilemma

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Elaine Kasket.
‘Under contract law, privacy ceases on the point of death’: Elaine Kasket. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Elaine Kasket is a counselling psychologist based in London. Her first book, All the Ghosts in the Machine: Illusions of Immortality in the Digital Age, examines the ethical and technical issues surrounding our data when we die.

If I were to fall under a bus tomorrow, what would happen to my Gmail and Facebook accounts?
Under contract law, privacy ceases on the point of death. But what’s interesting about this area is that big tech treats the erstwhile account holder and their data almost with the same contractual reverence as they would when this person was alive. So they end up privileging that concept over the needs, requests and wishes of the next of kin.

But that’s not what relatives expect; they would assume to inherit data much like they would shoeboxes of letters, photographs and so on.
Exactly. In the UK laws of succession, the two tests are tangibility and value. So if something’s tangible, even if it has no value, you can execute it in a will. Or it will automatically pass to the next of kin if the estate goes to them. So people assume the digital stuff is going to obey the same rules, but it doesn’t.

Generally speaking, what’s the social media company response to relatives’ requests for access to their deceased’s accounts?
Something along the lines of: “We’d love to be able to help you with this but we’re not able to.” They say they are protecting the (technically nonexistent) right of privacy of the deceased. You could call it agency laundering.

Occasionally this attitude has been challenged in court…
One of the most ridiculous cases was where Hollie Gazzard was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Her Facebook account contained photographs of her with her killer. Facebook told the family that they needed to protect Holly’s privacy by not allowing them to selectively edit her profile.

Hasn’t Facebook recently tried to address some of these problems?
Earlier this month it announced it will be using artificial intelligence to stop profiles from sending out troubling things such as birthday reminders and so on. But for every person who’s upset by a reminder there could be another family member who would mourn their loss. Because the thing is, grief is idiosyncratic. There is no rule book for grief. And if there were one, a profit-driven company, such as Facebook, shouldn’t be writing it.

Facebook’s business model is to collect data to encourage people to buy things. Dead people aren’t consumers. What’s the business case for maintaining memorial accounts?
There are several things. The only reason some people stay on Facebook is that there are memorials for people who are dear to them. And once you deactivate your account, the deceased user is no longer able to re-add you – you are locked out of the cemetery.
Another reason is that even if the person is no longer available to buy something, their data can still be analysed and be valuable to a company for a number of purposes.
They used to cull the accounts of deceased users, but there was user backlash from that. Ultimately, automatic profile retention is the least resource-heavy thing to do.

At some point there will be more dead Facebook accounts than live ones.
The Oxford Internet Institute recently predicted there could be 2bn dead Facebook accounts by the end of the century.

That’s a lot of data…
Although we’re doubling what we can store every couple of years, it’s not, like infinite – and our devices capture more and more stuff by default. That surplus data, either with the aid of artificial intelligence or human decision making will be jettisoned, and big tech will be making those decisions.

Meanwhile, people have to act like hackers to gain access to their relatives’ accounts
They are forced to break the law. They are impersonating people, using other people’s passwords… but we let it slide, because what else can you do? I’m not sure if I’m happy to leave someone a set of my passwords; they might find things that were important, but they would have access to everything else. Even if one isn’t harbouring toxic secrets, that’s still quite a thing.

Belief in the afterlife is strengthened by the sense that the dead are remaining socially influential via the internet.

Like people, social networking sites, such as MySpace or Friendster, also die…
The Marie Kondo idea that you should be storing all your books, photographs and music in the cloud, so we have nice clean shelves, is great. But just be aware that your grandchildren might know nothing about you – unless someone is taking the time to think: that platform is becoming obsolete, let’s make sure we download an archive. Companies aren’t going to do this for you; they’re not humanitarians, they are profit-based companies. Look at the history of computing: coding changes, hardware changes, software changes. Your data won’t survive. Moreover, you can’t bequeath your collections of music or books – all you’ve done is purchased a user licence agreement limited by your lifespan. The music isn’t yours; what you have is permission to listen.

Have social media changed how we mourn?
It makes the deceased much more present. The industrial revolution, with its hospitals and suburban cemeteries, enabled us to keep death at arm’s length. But the internet is tailor-made for continuing bonds; it makes it exceptionally easy, because the dead live in tech already. There’s dead people’s data everywhere: their Amazon reviews, their Trip Advisor recommendations. You may encounter something that influences you and have no idea whether it is authored by a dead or a live person. The dead remain socially active in a way that is unprecedented. They are undifferentiated, ambiguously there.

You write about people who leave messages on memorial pages who often talk about “getting through” to the deceased…
The sociologist Tony Walter describes how the internet is a particularly amenable place for angels. Historically, angels were messengers between heaven and Earth, but now they inhabit the ether where we can readily access them. Lots of nonreligious people have a belief in the afterlife, and this is strengthened by the sense that the dead are remaining socially influential via the internet.

An idea explored by Black Mirror and others is that we could one day be able to upload the contents of our brain or our consciousness to the cloud and create a hologram or virtual version of ourselves, which people could continue to interact with. Is this wise?
I find it faintly narcissistic. These people are dealing with their own terror of not being alive. They assume people would still like to hear from them when they are dead! Moreover, you may well run into some of the same problems of digital legacy: the platforms need updating, the code ceases to work, and so on.

What’s the bare minimum you’d advise people to do?
It’s a good idea to clean your digital house frequently. If nothing else, you don’t want relatives buried under a hundredweight of undifferentiated data with no sense of what is important to you. The default is to become a digital extreme hoarder, with data up to the rafters. The things which are really important to you, the artefacts you want to pass on to future generations, put them in a physical form. You cannot trust corporations to safeguard your data.

 All the Ghosts in the Machine: Illusions of Immortality in the Digital Age is published by Little, Brown (£14.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99

How to settle your loved one’s digital estate

How to settle your loved one’s digital estate

How to settle your loved one’s digital estate

Click here to view original web page at How to settle your loved one’s digital estate

digital estate

Settling the estate of a deceased family member has long been a taxing and emotional process. Among other things, we have personal possessions to sort through, probate court to visit, assets to distribute, and agencies to notify.

As our lives become more and more connected online, we increasingly need to also consider what to do with the digital estate, the online accounts of our dearly departed, many of which hold photos and personal memories, as well as sensitive financial information.

“Most people know it’s something they should think about, but not a lot of people actually have a plan in place that specifies how they want their digital assets handled,” says Alison Besunder, principal attorney of Arden Besunder, a New York law firm that focuses on estate planning and intellectual property.

People who have created a digital will—which can denote anything from whether a Facebook account should be deleted or memorialized, to how to download photos from a cloud service—make the process much easier for executors.

Alas, a majority of people who die today haven’t set up a digital will or anything like it.

“Many people do nothing with a decedent’s online accounts because they don’t know where to begin,” Besunder says. But inaction can be problematic. Accounts left dormant are susceptible to fraud, she says, because no one is necessarily monitoring them for suspicious activity.

Many social-media companies and email providers have services to help executors settle a decedent’s digital estate, and some have services to help users prepare for their own death. Here’s an overview of services some of the top providers offer to deal with death—and how to use them.

Amazon

Amazon does not appear to have an automated process to close a deceased user’s account. Read more about its account closure policies.

Apple

To close a deceased user’s Apple ID, contact Apple Support. You will be required to provide the user’s Apple ID, email address, and death certificate.

Facebook

To permanently close a deceased person’s account, you must submit a special request. You’ll need the deceased person’s birth certificate, death certificate, and proof of authority under local law that you are the representative of the deceased person or their estate.

The form includes an option to memorialize the account. In a memorialized Facebook account, the content they shared will remain visible according to their privacy settings, and friends can continue to share memories after the person has passed away. Living individuals can proactively appoint a legacy contact to manage their account once they’re no longer able to.

Google

To submit a request to close a deceased user’s Google account, fill out this form. You’ll need to verify whether you’re a relative or legal representative, and present the deceased’s death certificate and additional documents that may be helpful. Google will not provide anyone with passwords or other log-in details, regardless of their relation to the user.

Google users preparing for their own death can use its Inactive Account Manager feature to share parts of their account data, appoint a trusted contact, and notify someone if their account has been inactive for a certain period of time.

Instagram

Instagram, owned by Facebook, provides two options for a deceased user’s account: Remove it, or memorialize it. Verified immediate family members may request the removal (read: closing) of the account. You’ll need to submit proof that you’re an immediate family member, along with the deceased’s birth and death certificates.

To memorialize the account, complete this form, which requires the same information as removing an account. When an Instagram account is memorialized, no one is allowed to log in, but the posts that the deceased shared are visible, according to the deceased’s privacy settings, and the account won’t appear in public spaces, such as Instagram’s Explore section.

LinkedIn

Complete this form to request the closing of a deceased LinkedIn user’s profile. You’ll need to submit information that includes your loved one’s LinkedIn profile URL, the date of death, a link to an obituary, the company at which he or she most recently worked, email addresses associated with the account, and any other attachments or information that may be helpful to process the report.

Snapchat

Snap does not currently offer any way to close a decedent’s account.

To request the closing of a deceased person’s Twitter account, start here. Twitter will email you with instructions to provide more details, including information about the deceased, a copy of your ID, and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate.

In closing accounts of deceased account holders, Twitter will work with only verified immediate family members or those authorized to act on behalf of the estate. The company says it will not grant anyone account access, regardless of their relationship to the deceased.

Yahoo

To process the closure of a Yahoo account, the company requires that you mail a letter containing the deceased user’s Yahoo ID, a copy of a document appointing you as the personal representative or executor of the estate, and a copy of the deceased’s death certificate. Mail this information to:

Concierge Executive Escalations

Yahoo Inc.

5250 NE Elam Young Parkway

Hillsboro, OR 07124

Yahoo owns Flickr and Tumblr, though it’s unclear whether those sites have different policies.