Tag Archives: Probate

What’s your most important password?

passwordsYou may guess it’s the password to your online bank account, to Facebook or to a shopping site.  Those are all important but there’s one that it’s critical you share with a loved one.  It’s the password to your email account.

Why is this so important?  When you die, your loved one or executor will try to access all of your online accounts so that they can close them down or, if necessary, continue their use.  For example, they may want to shut down your account on Amazon since you won’t be doing any more shopping.  Or, if you pay your utility bills online, they may want to continue to pay them until they sell your home.

You may use the same login information and password for all of your accounts but chances are that you have several different ones.  However, most of the accounts have a system that will enable a user to recover a forgotten login or password.  The user just needs to know how to access the email account linked to that other site so he or she can recover the information when it is sent out.

Although it is not strictly legal for you to share your password and login information, it is the easiest way to ensure that when you’re gone, your executor will be able to easily access your information and settle your estate.

For more information about digital estates and the steps you should take to be sure you have included them in your planning process, check out our book “Access Denied ” or go to our site www.diesmart.com.

10 Tips A Funeral Home Won’t Tell You

adjectivesIn the past, we have written a lot about planning a funeral, the prepayment option and hints to save money. We recently came across a blog from urnsonline.com that we want to share with you. Click here to see what it says. The ideas are excellent ones and convey suggestions that you probably aren’t familiar with. Take a few minutes to read the blog, even if you’re not planning a funeral right now.   The tips will come in handy when you do.

For further information about funeral planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

Do presidents forget to write their wills?

LincolnEven though more than 50% of US citizens still don’t have a will, you’d think that the presidents of the United States, with all of their legal advisors and staff, would definitely have protected their property by preparing one.

Not true – Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, William Garfield and Ulysses S. Grant did not!

Two presidents who did leave wills freed slaves in them. George Washington left his entire estate to his wife Martha. He requested that, upon her death, all of their 317 slaves should receive their freedom.

Thomas Jefferson actually freed some of his slaves in his will – 3 older men who worked for him for decades and two of Sally Heming’s four children.

Most other presidents left fairly standard wills, leaving their assets to family members, though a few left special bequests.

Richard Nixon bequeathed his personal diaries to the Richard Nixon Library and Thomas Jefferson gave his friend and former president James Madison his gold-mounted walking staff.

Regardless of what presidents have or have not done, you should definitely consider getting a will prepared today. Otherwise, the government will decide what happens to your assets, not you.

For more information about wills and other end-of-life planning, go the www.diesmart.com.

What’s UFADAA and why should you care?

ULCLogo

 

 

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?

Data

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.