Do You Really Know Why Digital Legacy Planning Matters To You?

Do You Really Know Why Digital Legacy Planning Matters To You?

Do You Really Know Why Digital Legacy Planning Matters To You?

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“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”

— Susan Sontag

In the event of a house fire, what would you take with you? The standard answer used to be photograph albums. Why? Photos can remind us of our human mortality. We can look at faded images of those we have loved in the past and they can live again in our minds.

In the present, we can hold tightly on to rich memories of our life through vivid images in our minds that can never be taken away. Now, if you close your eyes, you could bring to remembrance one of those special times.

Savour it.

Our memories today are mostly digital representations of those beautiful moments. We snap the sunset on that unforgettable holiday, the last birthday party for Grandpa or the birth of our first child. Photographic repesentations of mortality.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

Digital memories stored for future recollections. A legacy created over a lifetime. Our life story in photographs and video. Never in history has it been so easy to record our lives.

Those digital memories are priceless. Irreplaceable.


What happens when those memories are locked away and no longer accessible? Worse it could be those precious memories of someone you love. It could be they are a few clicks of a keyboard from access. But, they might as well be on another planet for all the admittance you can get to them?


Morgan Hehir was attacked and killed on a night out in Nuneaton in Warwickshire, UK. He and his friends were on their way to a Halloween party on 31st October 2015. Morgan was only 20. It is hard to comprehend what loss like that must be to experience as a parent.

Morgan was an aspiring musician. Now his family wants to access the music, memories and pictures on the Mac computer he owned. However, they are locked out by a password they do not know.

He dad, Colin said recently in an article in The Telegraph, “He sent snapshots of his music and him messing around with his friends; he would send them little skits, so we know there is music on there as well as his photos, it’s all on this Macbook.”


Colin Hehir contacted Apple asking for help. They acknowledge the sheer difficulty and sadness of the situation. However, Apple says his parents need to get a court order to access songs written by their 20-year-old son stored on his computer.

An Apple spokesman said in a statement given to the BBC: “In the absence of permission for third-party access to an account, it is impossible to be certain what access the user would have wanted, and we do not consider it is appropriate that Apple make the decision.

Too right! It is not Apple’s position to unlock a computer. I don’t think they should make data freely available that doesn’t belong to them. Even, I believe, if they have a court order. Maybe the son would not want his parents to access that data? Who knows? The sad outcome is stress, heartache, and pain for the parents. Sad, when their grief is raw and daily present reality. My heart and sympathy go out to his parents. It is a tragic situation.

This is not an isolated case. The FBI were fighting through the courts for Apple to unlock the iPhone of a terrorist. In the end, they went elsewhere to access it. However, even that debate is still raging. Moreover, it will continue.


“We’re only asking for our data, that these companies are protecting for us. Morgan owns the computer; Morgan owns the data, but Apple owns the access. It’s so frustrating.” Said Colin Hehir. Going on he poignantly comments.

“It essentially means if you store everything on your computer, you lose your history and memories.”

That is true. True, unless you take steps and encourage those that you love to take to create a digital legacy plan. A plan that involves sharing passwords to your digital memories.


Do have priceless memories held on digital devices?

Are those devices password protected?

Whom have you told what that password is?

Digital legacy planning is still in its infancy. It needs to become part of standard estate planning. “I do not need a will, I do not have anything to leave,” is a common thread I hear. However, one sad lesson from this tragic story is in this digital age our priceless memories held in millions of pixels are acres of diamonds in the ground. Take steps to protect them.

If you are interested in knowing how you can take action to protect your digital legacy, then contact me. Let me guide you forward in that process.

Controlling your digital legacy

The State of Elder Law Scholarship: SSRN Articles


  • Memento Mori: Death and Wills by Karen S. Sneddon Abstract: Death. The mere point out of the phrase sends shivers down the backbone or provokes a nervous giggle. Modern reactions to loss of life vary from avoidance, as proven by the abundance of dying euphemisms, to fascination, as proven by the quantity of films and tv exhibits centered on dying, together with Twilight’s vampires and The Walking Dead’s zombies. Estate planning is the authorized surroundings wherein an individual confronts his or her mortality and participates within the formulation of his or her legacy. Contextualizing the expertise as a memento mori expertise promotes the perform of the property planning course of, particularly the drafting of the Will. The Will is the doc that nominates the consultant of the testator and the guardians of the testator’s minor youngsters. The Will offers cherished mementos of a life lived. “Remember you have to die” prompts reflection and contemplation.
  • Health Care Spending and Financial Security after the Affordable Care Act by Allison T. Hoffman Abstract: Health insurance coverage has fallen notoriously quick of defending Americans from monetary insecurity attributable to well being care spending. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) tried to ameliorate this shortcoming by regulating medical insurance. The ACA provides a brand new coverage imaginative and prescient of how medical insurance will (and maybe ought to) serve to advertise monetary safety within the face of well being care spending. Yet, the ACA’s coverage imaginative and prescient applies in a different way amongst insured, primarily based on the sort of insurance coverage they’ve, leading to inconsistent varieties and ranges of monetary safety amongst Americans. To look at this image of inconsistent monetary safety, this Article affords a taxonomy to explain methods wherein medical health insurance regulation can promote monetary safety. It then makes use of this taxonomy to map the impact the ACA may have on the monetary safety of numerous insured populations. Specifically, it analyzes how a lot an individual ill would possibly spend out of pocket on well being care in three eventualities: an individual with common protection by a person-market medical insurance trade, a employee with employer-sponsored insurance coverage, and a retiree with Medicare and a supplemental insurance coverage plan. This evaluation reveals two results. First, the ACA alleviates monetary danger from well being care spending to some extent in all three eventualities. But, secondly, the ACA preserves (and will even exacerbate) variability within the diploma and kind of monetary threat remaining throughout the three eventualities. In impact, the ACA asserts and affirms totally different visions of the function of medical health insurance in selling monetary safety for various individuals. This inconsistency leaves some insured particularly susceptible to spending and creates complexity that will impede insured from comprehending these factors of vulnerability.
  • Contemporary Trusts and Estates – An Experiential Approach by Jerome Borison, Naomi Cahn, Susan N. Gary, & Paula A. Monopoli Abstract: In this essay in a particular challenge devoted to educating trusts and estates, the co-authors of Contemporary Trusts & Estates: An Experiential Approach (2nd. ed. Aspen 2014) mirror on how the instructing of trusts and estates can combine coverage, apply, doctrine, and centuries of custom. They describe the genesis of their downside-based mostly casebook and the affect of the Carnegie Report on their alternative of pedagogic framework. Each of the co-authors embraced the elemental rules advocated by the Carnegie Report, which counsels that authorized schooling ought to combine “theoretical and sensible authorized data and professional identification.” This essay goes on to stipulate how the guide incorporates an issue-primarily based methodology in addition to an progressive selection of ordering the chapters that tracks the chronological path of property planning, addressing the lifetime use of trusts first, adopted by points of will validity and interpretation. Drafting workout routines complement the issues in addition to conventional instances that illuminate concept and follow. With chapters on planning for incapacity, the federal property and present tax, property administration and charitable trusts in addition to primary doctrine on intestacy, wills and trusts, the ebook displays the up to date challenges addressed by trusts and estates attorneys. The co-authors have discovered that the guide’s modern strategy engages college students in a means that makes the research of trusts and estates related and college students observe-conscious.
  • Viable Solutions to the Digital Estate Planning Dilemma by Jamie Patrick Hopkins & Ilya A. Lipin Abstract: Countless persons are dying with out correct digital estate plans in place, leaving billions of dollars of belongings unaccounted for within the digital world. This is happening partially as a result of people are sometimes unaware that conventional property planning instruments and methods, comparable to wills, are ailing-geared up to deal with the distinctive challenges of digital estate planning. As a consequence, the bulk of Americans are vastly unprepared for his or her digital afterlife, unintentionally foregoing digital estate planning altogether and leaving their belongings trapped in a digital purgatory. With the continuing progress in our reliance on know-how, interplay by way of social media, digitization of particular person’s property, and additional development of new Internet applied sciences, the quantity and worth of our digital belongings are rising exponentially. In response to this instant want for digital estate planning and administration of digital belongings, some companies started to supply their customers the flexibility to plan for the disposition of their digital property upon their dying. However, as a result of novelty of this space of regulation, the enterprise options at present afforded typically go away extra questions than solutions about what occurs to the person’s digital property, increase considerations about privateness and safety, and increase disputes over their total effectiveness within the property plan. This Essay examines the significance and growing prevalence of digital property, discusses the challenges going through conventional property planning within the rising world of digital belongings, and suggests a workable technique for the creation of a properly-developed and manageable digital estate plan.
  • Who Said Learning Trusts & Estates Can’t Be Fun? by Gerry W. Beyer Abstract: From even earlier than their first day of regulation faculty, Texas Tech University School of Law college students have the chance to understand the significance of the property planning space and to know that it may be each an pleasing and rewarding space of regulation wherein to follow. During orientation, which takes place the week earlier than lessons begin, new college students take part in full-day applications centered on a selected space of observe both of their very own selecting or assigned by the administration. For the 2013 coming into class, I was in cost of two full-day Estate Planning Tracks with a complete of roughly thirty-5 getting into college students. As their authorized training continues, college students have further publicity, some necessary and a few non-compulsory, to property planning matters. In my first yr required Property course, I spend a number of days reviewing the fundamental rules of intestate succession and wills. Texas Tech then requires all college students to finish a 4-credit score introductory course entitled Wills and Trusts as a situation of commencement throughout their second or third yr. Students needing a extra subtle therapy might take programs equivalent to Estate Planning, Texas Estate Administration, Guardianship, Estate and Gift Tax, Elder Law, and Marital Property. Students can also compete for a coveted place as an editor for the Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal that Texas Tech publishes. This Article reveals my fundamental instructing philosophy and the final pedagogical methods I make use of to make Trusts and Estates subjects each enjoyable and related. I will then share with you the precise instruments I use when educating the introductory course in addition to the superior programs comparable to Estate Planning and Texas Estate Administration. It is my hope that you simply could possibly achieve perception from my strategy to reinforce your individual instructing and the expertise you present to your college students.
  • Older Persons and Compromised Decisional Capacity: The Role of Public Policy in Defining and Developing Core Professional Competencies by Marshall S. Kapp Abstract: Issues regularly come up regarding the cognitive and emotional potential of older people to make sure legally important selections. In confronting these points, the skilled involvement of each attorneys and physicians (and different well being care professionals), performing each individually and collaboratively, is fascinating. This article describes the doable contributions of public coverage in growing, by fostering improvements in medical and authorized training, core competencies for physicians and attorneys which can be important to enhancing interprofessional collaboration on behalf of older people suspected of being compromised of their capacity to make sure important choices. Additionally, concepts are urged to handle sure points of the present coverage surroundings which will inhibit attorneys and physicians from optimum interprofessional interplay on this sphere.