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.

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

Don’t let your ex-spouse get your life insurance proceeds

Jackie and Warren Hillman

Jackie & Warren Hillman

When you buy a life insurance policy, you name a beneficiary who will inherit the proceeds when you die.  It’s important to keep that beneficiary designation up to date or the wrong person may benefit.

One such case that went all the way to the Supreme Court was that of Warren Hillman. Hillman died in 2008 shortly after he was diagnosed with leukemia. He was 66. He had been married three times. When he died, his assets included a life insurance policy worth $124,558.03.

But Hillman made an all too common estate planning error. In 1996, while he was working for the federal government, he took out a life insurance policy and named his second wife, Judy Maretta, as his beneficiary. When he and Maretta divorced in 1998, he didn’t change the beneficiary designation on his policy. It was a policy that was part of a life insurance program for all federal employees and the law for that program says that the proceeds on death are paid according to the beneficiary designation.

He married Jacqueline Hillman in 2002 and was with her until he died.

Since his death, his second ex-wife, Judy Maretta, and his widow had been fighting over that money. In June, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Maretta was entitled to all of it because she was still listed as the beneficiary.

If your life circumstances change, be sure to update the beneficiary forms for any policies that you have. Otherwise, your ex-spouse may get your life insurance proceeds.

For further information about beneficiaries, go to




New California Digital Privacy Law


Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a very broad statute that protects digital privacy rights.

Called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, it does not allow any law enforcement agency to force a business to turn over any metadata or digital communications without a warrant.  The new legislation seems to be the most comprehensive in the United States.

Here’s an article from Slate we found that provides lots of details about the new California law.

For more information on how to protect your digital assets, go to or look for our book  “ACCESS DENIED” on