Category Archives: Beneficiary Basics

Designated Beneficaries. Primary beneficaires. Contingent Beneficiaries. Payable upon death beneficaries. transfer on death beneficaries. Estate is the beneficiary. Joint Tenancy with rights of survivorship.

What’s UFADAA and why should you care?

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We’ve talked several times about the importance of managing your digital assets and making sure your loved ones will be able to access them when you’re gone.

UFADAA stands for Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.  It was developed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and is a recommended act that all states are encouraged to enact.  The first approved version of the act did not meet the needs of the states and very few of them approved it.  However, in late 2015, a revised act was passed.  It has several important points:

  • It gives internet users control.  It allows users to specify whether their digital assets should be preserved, distributed to heirs or destroyed.
  • It provides efficient uniformity for all concerned.  Digital assets cross state lines.  A uniform law ensures that fiduciaries (the people who are appointed to manage our property when we die or are unable to manage it ourselves) in every state will have equal access to digital assets and custodians will have a single legal standard with which to comply.
  • It respects privacy interests.  It prevents the companies that store our communications from releasing them to fiduciaries unless the user consented to disclosure.
  • It works hand-in-hand with federal and state law.  Fiduciaries must provide proof of their authority in the form of a certified document.  Custodians of digital assets that comply with a fiduciary’s apparently authorized request for access are immune from any liability under statutes that prohibit unauthorized access.  A fiduciary’s authority over digital assets is limited by federal law, including the Copyright Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

19 states are considering passing a law that encompasses at least some of what was recommended in the revised UFADAA.  You should contact your representatives and urge them to enact this legislation.  It will make it much easier for you to manage the digital estate of a loved one after he or she has died.

For more information about UFADAA and other issues related to your digital estate, check out our book ACCESS DENIED: WHY YOUR PASSWORDS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR WILL.

 

Do you know what your digital assets are worth…and what happens to them when you die?

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A 2013 estimate by McAfee found that the average person’s digital assets are worth $35,000.  That may be in things such as airline miles, purchased media, online bank accounts, Bitcoins, domain names.  Regardless of what they are in, their value can add up quickly.

As my attorney put it, “The digital world is today’s Wild West.  There are no sheriffs and no predictable law.”  Yet you have to find a way to protect these assets and to pass their worth on when you die.

A recent blog by Sharon Fisher gave some great examples of people who didn’t do anything and what happened when they were gone.

A son gave up about $2000 that resided in a PayPal account because his father hadn’t left a will granting him possession to those funds.

Michael Hamelin, a hacker who died in an accident had secured his family’s systems so well that even with the help of other hacker friends, his wife hasn’t be able to gain access to some of their files, including the only copies of digital photos they owned.

Peggy Bush, who we previously wrote about, was a Canadian widow who was told by Apple that she’d have to get a court order for the company to reveal the password to an iPad card game she and he husband linked to play.

In addition to policies of each company that has an online presence, laws vary by state.  It’s a very complex situation.

Be sure you have a plan for how to deal with your digital assets.  Check out our book, ACCESS DENIED: WHY PASSWORDS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR WILL, which will walk you thru the issues and help you to figure out what to do.

No power in the house – a digital death problem!

51j2ST20YwL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_A Sad but True Story from Access Denied illustrates a major problem that many survivors face when trying to deal with their loved one’s death.

“Marsha’s husband, Greg, went bike riding with some friends, something he did most Sunday mornings. A car careened down the street and hit him; he was killed instantly.

“Greg was the main breadwinner and his income paid for their living expenses. His salary checks were automatically deposited into his bank account. Their bills, including mortgage, utility bills and insurance premiums, were automatically paid from this account.

“When he was killed, Marsha was distraught. The death was totally unexpected. Greg was 46 and in great health. She spent the first few months after his death just grieving and wringing her hands. She could cope with very little and wasn’t thinking clearly. She never thought about the practicalities of how digital death were affecting her life.

“Because Greg was gone, paychecks were no longer being deposited into his bank account, so money to pay the bills quickly ran out. The checking account and the online utility accounts were set up with Greg’s name and email address. Past due notices and notices of returned checks were being sent to Greg’s email account, and Marsha knew nothing about them.

“Then, one day she came home to find she had no power. When she called the power company to find out what was wrong, they informed her that the bill for her address had not been paid. They had cut off the power and Marsha was in the dark with no heat and no electricity.

“Here’s how the call went:

PG&E answering machine: Hello, how can I help you? Press 3 if you are calling for help with billing.
Marsha: Pressed 3
PG&E answering machine: Please enter your account number so we can help you.
Marsha: Thinking to herself: I have no idea what the account number is. We haven’t received a paper bill in ages. Why don’t they ask me for Greg’s email? I know that.
PG&E answering machine: I’m sorry. Let’s try again. Please enter the account number. We’ll need that before we can help you.
Marsha: Clicking 0, 0, and 0 looking for a way to get connected to a real person.
PG&E (a real person): Hello, this is PG&E. How may we help you?
Marsha: The electricity at our house has been disconnected. I need to make a payment.
PG&E (a real person): Do you know the account number?
Marsha: No. My husband paid all of our bills.
PG&E (a real person): What is your husband’s name?
Marsha: Greg Thomas.
PG&E: What is your relationship with Greg?
Marsha: I’m his wife.
PG&E: Is Greg there? We can’t take a payment from anyone but Greg.
Marsha: No. Greg died several months ago.
PG&E: We are very sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, we can’t take a payment or transfer service to your name without you being here in person and providing proof of your relationship to Greg.
Marsha: You’re kidding right! It’s 20 degrees outside, and I don’t have any heat.
PG&E: I’m sorry. There is nothing we can do at this time. Please visit your PG&E office Monday morning with the right documentation, and they will be able to help you.
Marsha: (In one last effort for help) Can’t you just give me Greg’s password? I could log in and pay the bill electronically.
PG&E: Do you have documentation from Greg authorizing access to his account?
Marsha: No (thinking to herself: I have no idea what she is talking about).
PG&E: Sorry, there’s nothing else we can do.”

Don’t let this happen to you.  Makes plans for what will happen to your digital estate when you die and protect your family.  For more information and help on this critical topic, get a copy of Access Denied today.

Apple says maybe” – Another digital death fiasco

A Ca51j2ST20YwL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_nadian, Peggy Bush, widow tried to get her deceased husband’s Apple ID password so she could continue to use apps that resided on their shared iPad.  She ended up being told by Apple support that she would have to produce a court order first.

Her daughter took up the fight and, after several weeks of customer support calls, writing to the CEO and going to the media with the story, Apple finally agreed “to help the family with their issue”.  Sounds good, right.  The problem is nobody is sure what this means.  Will Peggy get access to her husband’s account?  Nobody knows.

If this issue comes as a surprise to you, it shouldn’t.  Apple and most other companies have license terms that are quite clear.  There are no rights of survivorship.  In other words, when you die, your account dies with you.  In Apple’s terms:  “unless required by law, you agree that your account is non-transferable and that any rights to your Apple ID or content within your content terminate upon your death.  Upon receipt of a copy of a death certificate, your account may be terminated and all content within your account deleted.”

When most people are trying to get their affairs in order, they think about the tangible things they own.  They don’t think about their digital estate and how to provide access to online accounts for their heirs.

Although it is stated as not being legal in the terms and conditions of most online accounts, providing the user name and password for each account will enable your executor or other family member to access your accounts, close them, transfer date or even continue to use them.

To get more information about how to manage your digital estate, check out this book: ACCESS DENIED.  You’ll not only find valuable help but worksheets you can use as well.  Don’t leave a mess for your family.  Get all of your affairs in order now, including those related to your online life.

Have you made a plan for your digital assets?

AIM-blog-graphic-digital-estate-9-2015When cruising the web, we came across a video that very simply tells you the basics of what to do about your digital assets.  Many people have what they think are comprehensive plans for their estate.  However, they’ve forgotten about this very critical segment.  Check out the video and then start planning….before it’s too late.

For more information about estate planning, go to diesmart.com.