Category Archives: Uncategorized

Will you get a call from a debt collector?

debt-deathDid you know that if someone dies with unpaid bills like a balance on a credit card account, a family member or close friend will get a call or letter from a debt collector.

A few years ago, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) issued new guidelines related to this subject.  The guidelines “widen the universe of people who could receive collection calls or letters”.  This makes it very important that anyone receiving such a call or letter knows his legal rights and obligations.

Debt collectors read the obituaries and then check to see whether the person who just died has any surviving relatives.  If so, they immediately begin sending out letters or making phone calls and harassing them for whatever is owed.

Rules vary from state to state but, in general, here are a few things that usually apply.

  • Family members or friends are not obligated to pay out of their own pockets for debts incurred by a deceased person.
  • If a family member or friend has co-signed a credit card or loan application with the now deceased person, that relative or friend is probably obligated to repay the debt.
  • If the deceased left a will and the estate is in probate, debt collectors can attempt to collect their money from the assets of that estate.
  • Assets that are specifically bequeathed to someone or that were jointly owned by the deceased and another person generally go to that person outside of the estate and are usually not reachable by debt collectors.  In the 10 community property states, assets are generally considered joint property and can’t be touched by a debt collector.

What does this mean for you?  If someone close to you dies and  you are contacted by a debt collector, don’t give that person any information or commit to anything.  See assistance from a local credit counselor or attorney to get guidance on how to proceed.  Otherwise, you may find yourself paying money to a debt collector unnecessarily.

For more information about settling an estate, go to www.diesmart.com.

 

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.

Why you need a living will & healthcare power of attorney

terri schiavo

Most people don’t like to think about what will happen if they’re in an accident or come down with a catastrophic illness.  They don’t decide who they want to speak for them if they are unable to communicate their wishes themselves.  They don’t tell anyone what kind of care they want….or don’t want.  Once they are hurt or incapacitated, it may be too late.

These are three reasons why you need a living will and a healthcare power of attorney:

1) You name the person you want to speak for you when you can’t.  It should be someone  you trust to make decisions on your behalf and to carry out your wishes.

2) You decide whether you want heroic measures performed to prolong your life if there’s no chance of recovery.

3) You outline the type of treatment you want to receive.

If you don’t have these documents, a relative you don’t know very well and don’t trust or possibly the courts will speak for you and decide what will happen.

For example, they may decide to put you on life support and prolong your life even though there is no chance of recovery and you may not have wanted heroic measures.  They may choose to perform a surgical procedure that you don’t want or they may decide to do something that is against your religious beliefs.

A living will enables you to describe the kind of care you want.

A healthcare power of attorney (It may be called something else in your state or it may be combined with a living will) allows you to name the person you want to be your healthcare agent who can speak for you when you can’t.

Unfortunately, a life threatening accident or a catastrophic illness can occur at any time.  There’s no age that is exempt.  Think of Terri Schiavo.  She was a 26 year-old that had a tragic fall, went into a coma and remained alive, hooked up to a feeding tube, in a vegetative state for more than 15 years because her husband and her parents couldn’t agree on her treatment and she hadn’t legally stated her wishes.

Don’t let others decide for you.  If you don’t have a living will and a healthcare power of attorney, get them drawn up right away so your wishes will be carried out and you will be able to speak for yourself….even when you really can’t.

For more information on this important subject, go to www.diesmart.com.

What Happens To Your Yahoo Japan Digital Assets When You Die?

On Monday, Yahoo Japan announced “Yahoo! Ending”, a program designed to help Yahoo Japan users plan for their death.   The search engine, in partnership with funeral services company Kamakura Shinsho, helps Yahoo Japan users make a will, find a grave, and plan their funeral.    Once Yahoo Japan confirms the user has died, the service will set up a memorial site, send out digital farewell messages, and delete personal data from Yahoo’s on line system.      In the future, Yahoo Ending could be expanded to work with credit card, insurance and other companies to manage a wider scope of personal data left behind when users pass away.

Yahoo Ending answers the question “what happens to your Yahoo Japan digital assets when you die”.  Once Yahoo Japan receives proof of death, Yahoo Japan assumes it has the legal authority to delete digital assets created and stored on Yahoo Japan.

In the United States, Yahoo digital assets are in fact part of the estate of the deceased.   Before we created our digital life, we stored photos and art in an album or a picture frame.   Our emails and text messages were paper letters and notes stored in a file cabinet.    When someone dies, the estate representative is required by law to take an inventory of property owned by the deceased and assign a value to the property, including their digital assets.    The estate representative is then required by law to dispose of property the deceased owned based on instructions left in a will or a trust, or state intestate laws if the decedent died without a will or a trust.   In today’s paper world, estate representatives or beneficiaries must provide documents providing they are managing the assets according to the wishes of the deceased.    In a paper world, proof of death does not trigger the automatic deletion or destruction of property owned by the decedent.

The question “what happens to our digital assets” continues to be the subject of legal debate as the internet service providers and the legal infrastructure grapple with the rules and processes for managing and disposing of digital assets that are in fact part of our estate.

We need programs and policies that don’t just deal with the death of the account owner, but also provide a way for trustees and conservators to manage our digital assets in the case of incapacity.

Related posts:

PC World – Dead In Japan

Wall Street Journal

 

 

 

 

One thing you should do when putting your affairs in order

A friend sent this to me the other day.  I thought it was worth sharing.

The doctor, after an examination, sighed and said, “I’ve got some bad news.
You have cancer, and you’d best put your affairs in order.”

The woman was shocked, but managed to compose herself and walk into the waiting room where her daughter was waiting.

‘Well, my dear daughter, we women celebrate when things are good, and we celebrate when things don’t go so well.

In this case, things aren’t well. I have cancer. So, let’s head to the club and have a martini.’

After 3 or 4 martinis, the two were feeling a little less somber. There were some laughs and more martinis.

They were eventually approached by some of the woman’s old friends, who were curious as to what the two were celebrating.

The woman told her friends they were drinking to her impending end, ‘I’ve been diagnosed with AIDS.’   The friends were aghast, gave the woman their condolences and beat a hasty retreat.

After the friends left, the woman’s daughter leaned over and whispered, ‘Momma, I thought you said you were dying of cancer, and you just told your friends you were dying of AIDS! Why did you do that?’

‘Because I don’t want any of those bitches sleeping with your father after I’m gone.’

And THAT, my friends, is what is called, ‘Putting Your Affairs In Order.’

Actually, she could protect her money by setting up a trust to ensure that her children got her money, not her husband’s new sweetie.   But it’s still a good story,

For more information about estate planning, wills and trusts, go to www.diesmart.com.