Identity Theft Safeguard

Do You and Your Aging Parents Have a Digital Estate Plan?

You may be comfortable that your have your estate plan in order. You have a will, a durable power of attorney, a living will and a health care proxy. But do you have a digital estate plan?

In the past, we kept albums full of snapshots, vinyl records and shoeboxes full of correspondence. Now our photos are all on Flickr and IPhoto, our music is downloaded from ITunes and our correspondence is email via Yahoo or Google. Naomi Cahn, a law professor at George Washington University, stated that most adults have 20-25 accounts on the internet. And many of those accounts are for banking or investments.

Have you given instructions to your family on what to do with your internet accounts if you should die? And do they even know how to access those accounts? User names, passwords, internet addresses?

The family of Ricky Rash, a 15 year old who committed suicide in 2011, discovered how difficult it was to recover information from their deceased son’s internet account. In an effort to understand why he had taken his own life, they requested but were refused access to his Facebook account.

Facebook claimed that according to the Stored Communications Act of 1986 – the federal law that governs the protection of a person’s electronic data – even the account of a minor is protected from access by his parents or anyone else.  Other sites and providers interpret the legislation this way, making access all but impossible.

There are only five states that have taken any steps to help recover the internet data of a deceased person—Indiana, Idaho and Oklahoma legislation covers social media and blogging accounts, while Connecticut and Rhode Island legislation covers only email.

What does this mean for you? It is critical that you create a digital estate plan. The listing of internet accounts needs to be comprehensive. Information must include:

  • the name of the account
  • the contents of the account
  • the URL address
  • username
  • password
  • instructions for the disposition of the account including the person to oversee such disposition.

Digital Files After Death, What Happens to Your Digital Legacy?

Have You Completed Your Client’s Digital Estate Plan?

I’m sure you are comfortable that your clients’ estate plans are up to date. But have you reviewed your client’s digital estate plan? What is a digital estate plan? It’s a plan for the disposition of all your clients internet accounts once he or she is deceased

Experts have estimated that the average adult with access to the internet has more than 25 internet accounts! In the past, we kept albums full of snapshots, vinyl records and shoeboxes full of correspondence. Now our photos are all on Flickr and IPhoto, our music is downloaded from ITunes and our correspondence is email via Yahoo or Google.

And probably more important than that, a lot of your clients bank and investment accounts may be entirely online.!

And what happens if your client dies? Who has access to these internet accounts? And if they want those accounts taken off the internet how do they do it? You may discover that it is more difficult than you think to access their accounts or erase them from the internet

The family of Ricky Rash, a 15 year old who committed suicide in 2011, discovered how difficult it was to recover information from their deceased son’s internet account. In an effort to understand why he had taken his own life, they requested but were refused access to his Facebook account. Facebook claimed that according to the Stored Communications Act of 1986 – the federal law that governs the protection of a person’s electronic data – even the account of a minor is protected from access by his parents or anyone else.  Other sites and providers interpret the legislation this way, making access all but impossible.

There are only five states that have taken any steps to help recover the internet data of a deceased person—Indiana, Idaho and Oklahoma legislation covers social media and blogging accounts, while Connecticut and Rhode Island legislation covers only email.

What does this mean for your clients? It is critical that they create a digital estate plan.The listing of internet accounts needs to be more comprehensive than I originally recommended. Information must include:

  • the name of the account
  • the contents of the account
  • the URL address
  • username
  • password
  • instructions for the disposition of the account including the person to oversee such disposition.
Digital planning
Digital planning

There is a whole new industry that has been created to service your clients’ digital estate , a new digital estate planning service. Your clients can create an account and then enter their user names, passwords and wishes for each of their digital assets. They can specify an heir for each account; Legacy Locker will provide heirs with information after the account holder’s death is verified.

There are also online memorial services to celebrate your client’s life. These services enable your clients to create their own memorials before they pass away. Facebook and Twitter also offer these services for family members.

The importance of having a digital estate plan will increase as more and more of our assets (and access to assets) are online. Gradually laws will evolve to give family members access to deceased loved ones’ accounts. It is important to prepare your clients for the disposition of their digital assets now so that family members will not be unpleasantly surprised when they attempt to uncover them.

If you want to explore digital estate planning in more detail feel free to wander around.

Don't Let Your Digital Assets Die With You

Digital Estate Planning Law

The May 2013 issue of the Internet Law Researcher newsletter (which is available to members of the Duke Law community through Westlaw‘s GLILR database) rounds up a bibliography of legislation and articles related to digital asset estate planning. To locate the article in Westlaw Classic or WestlawNext, use the citation 18 No. 5 Internet L. Researcher 1.

Planning for death has always been an uncomfortable and difficult topic for most people, and the growth of social media and other online accounts has added a new layer of complexity to sorting out the affairs of the recently deceased. Author Ken Kozlowski describes the current situation as “a big mess” in which “the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) [is] being cited as a reason for services such as Facebook to withhold access to deceased individuals’ accounts, passwords, stored photos, etc.” Five states have passed legislation related to control of deceased individuals’ online accounts, and undoubtedly more state legislatures will follow suit.

The Internet Law Researcher article recommends a number of publications from legal and mainstream sources, including the recent law review student note by Maria Perrone, What Happens When We Die: Estate Planning of Digital Assets, and the blog Digital Passing. The recommended resources offer tips for developing a plan to handle digital assets after death, and serve as a good supplement to the Goodson Law Library’s collection of estate planning guides, most of which do not discuss digital assets in detail.

Digital Legacy Association urges hospices to support patients in managing their digital estate

The Future of Our Digital Selves

By Jess Myra

ABSTRACT

This paper presents insights on designing interactions for digital immortality after bodily dying, and will deal with factors of interactions with the digital archive for those who stay alive.

Current instruments for digital memento and digital archive administration will not be supposed to perform for submit-life communications and don’t sufficiently take into account the longevity of content material, digital legacies, and relevancy of content material over time.

Conclusions and insights from graduate thesis analysis are offered right here to tell applicable interactions for digital immortality. It will embrace how cultural legacies of the previous can encourage digital legacies for the long run. Also, correlations will be included from a survey addressing mementos, digital legacies, digital will planning, digital archives, and the dying of family members.

Considerations

Results offered listed here are primarily based on interviews and a web-based survey. This survey had a complete of one hundred fifteen respondents and integrated qualitative and quantitative questions. Input strategies had been through radial button choice, a number of checkbox choice, and free textual content entry. Questions coated normal demographics and 6 subsections (conventional mementos, digital mementos, digital will, your legacy, these gone, digital archives) totaling 31 questions with the choice for suggestions on the finish.

Participants had been unfold throughout 22 international locations, with most respondents from North America (60%) and Europe (24%). Gender division was males (sixty one%) and females (39%). The majority of respondents had been working professionals (seventy five%), with lesser respondents as numerous sorts of college students (18%), with nominal respondents both a keep-at-dwelling dad or mum or as “different”.

Introduction

Dusty picture albums and containers of letters (conventional mementos) are being changed with laborious drives and cloud storage (digital mementos). Instead of fading pictures and ink, we now have the endurance of digital bytes. As we transition to this new kind of digital content material administration, traces of ourselves begin to manifest that will retain life far after we die.

In human historical past, there has at all times been a want to go away a legacy and be remembered. This occurs at varied scales whether or not as a civilization, tradition, household, or particular person—suppose pyramids to gravestones. In trendy instances, our channels of communication have shifted from conventional to digital memento administration.

This compulsion to seize our lives for posthumous remembrance is named thanatography. This paper explores interplay alternatives for a way our digital legacies may be eternal and retain relevance to these dwelling lengthy after our loss of life. This a brand new strategy to human-pc interplay analysis in submit-life digital humanities referred to as thanatosensitivity.

Cultural Legacies

An essential half of analysis for this thesis examined cultural legacies which have survived all through the generations. Studies included: on-website visits, interviews with anthropologists, audio guided excursions, commentary, and reflections leading to matter upsetting questions.

The purpose of this portion of analysis was to find how present behaviors and historic societies can encourage the legacy of digital content material for the next generations of technocrats. The following cultural legacies had been examined:

Native American Totem Poles, Vodou Spiritual Communications, and Icelandic Sagas.

Traditional Mementos

Traditional mementos are sometimes simply significant to the person who owns them and so they doubtless don’t even keep in mind the final time they dealt with them. Comparatively, many individuals need to be remembered lengthy after their dying so the paradigm of coveting private objects as a technique to retain a legacy to go on to others is just not very efficient. The which means and worth of conventional mementos can simply be misplaced to the following sequence of receivers.

Digital Mementos

We are amassing gigabytes of photographs, movies, and emails and we wrestle to parse significant content material at related instances from the collections. Web companies like Flickr, or software program purposes like iPhoto add some readability with organizational strategies like date stamping or tagging. Facebook’s implementation of the Timeline additionally helps us to reßect on shared moments primarily based on years of our lives. Yet, why is a date, key phrase tag, or yr related after we die? Does this meta knowledge add worth to our digital legacy when individuals need to entry it later?

The Archive

The digital archive is a set of all digital content material that the particular person owned together with the digital pictures, video, audio, emails, tweets, and textual content messages from that one particular person. However, the traces between digital archives aren’t so distinct. Typically, digital media is shared with others. Our milestone moments and recollections have worth as a result of we expertise them with folks. Consider the shared mementos between a household, or tight community of mates. The digital archive of somebody who has died in that context is considered much less as ‘theirs’ and extra as ‘ours’.

 

Ownership

We settle for a broader possession of digital content material as we tag our pals, they usually tag us, and we every share the identical content material independently by way of totally different shops. With so many channels obtainable to entry and share digital content material, and a lot of our time now being devoted within the digital realm, there’s a bigger viewers accessible that’s unparalleled by our conventional mementos. There is larger alternative to replicate our digital selves ahead to be remembered by future generations and extra importantly, to offer worth for them by way of our digital archives for an extended interval of time.

Everlasting Presence

As traces of our digital selves persist after we die, there’s alternative leverage digital media so our lives can proceed to be significant for our family members. We can retain relationships with folks we care about and make our life experiences out there for his or her profit. In essence, we will persist digitally to some extent after bodily demise.

Current platforms that exist haven’t been constructed for the performance of put up-life content material administration. Facebook’s Memorial pages are static archives in an energetic public platform that don’t handle the sensitivities of particular relationships. The Timeline group of content material is sensible for our personal self-reflection in life, nevertheless, as a digital archive it doesn’t present direct worth for others.

Remembering the Dead

One of the largest challenges with digital immortality is retaining relevancy of our digital content material over time so our lives might be precious and significant to future generations. In the interval instantly after loss of life, household and pals mourn and undergo the grieving course of. After acceptance of the dying, the particular person is remembered by these surviving by way of recollections and mementos. If the particular person was recognized first hand in life, triggers reminiscent of a spot, date, or scent can recall shared moments. However, what occurs generations after the demise of somebody and people people who knew them in life additionally cross away? How can somebody who has been lifeless for a very long time retain a legacy in digital content material that will have which means to future generations.

Activating Archives

Now we have now the chance to leverage qualities of digital content material to help differing types of relationships into the long run. With the copious quantities of knowledge being collected and shared about our private lives, there’s alternative to remain linked in new methods after dying. Algorithms primarily based on persona and character traits can auto-put up on somebody’s behalf—as seen within the new on-line service LivesOn that will tweet for you past the grave. Similarly, providers like Dead Social and IfIDie permit customers to ship preplanned messages in social media after demise.

Intersections of Life

However, not represented within the present suite of publish-life digital companies are the advantages of shared life experiences and commonalities throughout digital archives after dying. Namely, the second of overlap between somebody’s life and a digital second from somebody who’s lifeless might be beneficial in numerous contexts.

These corresponding life experiences will be accessible from the archive of people who have died to supply a brand new foundation for empathy all through life phases of the dwelling that the deceased can contribute to. This offers a chance to find new views on folks you thought you already knew, or new commonalities with a relative you by no means knew in life. Commonalities and shared experiences are timeless. They retain worth in new methods to totally different individuals, for various causes, at totally different moments.

Because now we have varied levels of relationships with individuals, we frequently wish to share and bear in mind folks in numerous methods primarily based on how we knew them. Also, the sort and quantity of info we will wish to share will depend upon how shut we’re to them. Thus, utilizing public platforms to serve the aim of many levels of relationships will not be applicable. It doesn’t fulfill the specificity of private relationships, and imposes moments within the public sphere that will possible not be anticipated and doubtlessly not desired as nicely.

CONCLUSIONS

With new retailers for connecting to a bigger viewers, and with traces of ourselves which can be left behind in digital media, it’s extra essential than ever to think about features of possession, longevity, and relevancy over time of our legacy after dying. Different from previous traditions, the long run of digital content material administration permits us to preplan and increase our digital archive to stay linked with family members and people in our social community lengthy after we’re bodily gone.

Through my analysis, I consider present present platforms don’t leverage digital media adequately for submit-life legacy in an lively contextual manner, nor does it assist the wants of these near us as a platform for communication and reminiscence in our bodily absence. I consider the traces between particular person digital archives are blurred and there may be alternative for our life to retain relevance far after we die by leveraging the worth of commonalities throughout our digital archives. Through shared recollections and availability of empathetic experiences, our lives can have that means over time through the wealthy digital content material that aggregates all through our lives.

There is a brand new alternative introduced to us that didn’t exist earlier than with conventional mementos. Fortunately, we’re in management and will get to determine what it means to command our put up-life digital selves—ought to we select to.