Estate Planning for Social Media and Electronic Gadgets?

by Pessin Katz Law, P.A.
Contact

A rapidly growing number of people do everything online, from managing their banking to storing their photos, writing the next best-seller, or documenting the next great invention.  Yet few of them have read the Terms of Service governing access to those Facebook, LinkedIn, AOL, Gmail, and other digital media sites. (You know what the Terms of Service are – those pages of small print that you don’t read, quickly scroll through, and then agree to (“click here”), just so you can get to the good stuff.)  And access to that information by your family if you become disabled, sick, or die is most assuredly not guaranteed.

Consider the family, whose mom bought an iPad to keep her busy during chemo treatments.  She left the iPad to her children in her Will, but neglected to give them the access code.  The device is now useless (“a shiny silver placement”), as her children fight with Apple and their hyper-vigilant security team.

Or the father, who had to beg Facebook for access to the videos and photos left by his 21-year-old son who had passed away.

Now think about how difficult it would be for someone to pay your bills, or transfer funds between your accounts, or publish your future best-seller if they couldn’t access your accounts and/or electronic devices.  Although a group of lawyers are trying to formulate a uniform law regarding access to digital assets, few states have clear-cut laws allowing a “fiduciary” (a trusted family member or other individual who can step into your shoes) access to your digital identity and information if you become incapacitated or die.  A bill introduced on the topic in the Maryland Senate last year died in committee, and has yet to be resurrected.

Addressing the problem is a two-step process. First, make sure your logins, passwords, security codes, and other access information are up-to-date and stored in a safe place.  There are lots of options for this, from low-tech (think paper copy, stored someplace safe in your home) to high-tech (online password vaults and services which allow you to store endless passwords.) 

Second, don’t wait for lawmakers and online providers to get around to solving the problem.  Instead, make arrangements in your estate planning documents to address your digital assets.  A properly-drafted Power of Attorney can authorize a trusted friend or family member (your “fiduciary”) to access your digital passwords and media in the event you become disabled.  A properly drafted Will or Revocable Trust agreement can empower your Personal Representative or Trustee to manage your digital footprint after your death.  And don’t wait until you have enough “stuff” or assets to get these documents in place, access to a simple iPad or Facebook video with your memories (much less the award-winning Broadway play you wrote back in college) is a priceless gift to your family members.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Pessin Katz Law, P.A. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Pessin Katz Law, P.A.
Contact
more
less

Pessin Katz Law, P.A. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.