For Atlanta, Georgia, area wills and estate lawyers like me, estate planning means so much more than just avoiding taxes and planning for death. Instead, it’s about preserving your “whole family legacy,” which includes family values, traditions and memories should something unexpectedly happen to you.
To that end, your memories are priceless treasures that you’ve spent a lifetime trying to preserve. Years ago it was the shoe box of pictures under the bed or the trunk in the attic, but in today’s tech-savvy world social media has taken their place.
More and more people are using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to record important memories such as the birth of a baby, a child’s graduation, a wedding and so much more. And what makes this option so special is that it allows the owner of the social media account, along with friends and family to post comments and other valuable insights on each post.
Social media accounts serve as a cache for photos and videos – all of which are incredibly valuable to your family. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that you include a plan to preserve the memories hosted on your social media accounts along with the rest of your family’s legacy? Even though we are still at the dawn of what social media will become, the major social media platforms are already beginning to address the issue of how to handle social media accounts when the owner passes away. Here are a few examples:
Twitter recently adopted a policy to handle ownership of a deceased user’s account. Twitter requires the following information:
1. Your full name, contact information (including e-mail address), and your relationship to the deceased user.
2. The username of the Twitter account, or a link to the profile page of the Twitter account.
3. A link to a public obituary or news article.
Once you provide Twitter with these three things, you can either request that the deceased user’s account be deleted or receive an archive of all of the deceased user’s tweets offline.
Facebook has a unique feature where they will memorialize the profile of a deceased account holder. When a profile is memorialized, only current “friends” will be able to see it. It is however, still active so that friends can leave messages on the wall in remembrance.
To have someone’s profile memorialized, just click this link and you’ll be able to submit a request. You can also request that the decedent’s account be deleted using this form.
LinkedIn has a simple Verification of Death form, which is easy to complete. You can find this form and the information required to close the account on the LinkedIn Customer Support Center. You can opt to submit the form either online or via fax. You will need to know the account holder’s email address used on the account. This is what is used to verify the person’s identity.
As with all other aspects of estate planning, it is important to discuss what you want to happen to your online profiles with your Marietta, Georgia, wills and estates lawyer and document your wishes in writing. If you would like to discuss this with an Atlanta, Georgia, wills and estates lawyer who understands the importance of preserving a real legacy for your family, call us today at 770-425-6060 to schedule your own Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session (these usually cost $750 but you can get in at no charge if you’ll mention this blog post on social media). However, these appointments are limited each month, so call today!
Remember the days when IP—Intellectual Property—was the exclusive domain of patent attorneys, computer science majors, successful authors, and professional photographers and artists? Well, times have changed, because whether you know it or not, you’re very likely a player in the IP space…today’s world of ones and zeros (i.e.,binary code, if you’re not up on the lingo).
This IS Relevant to Planning Your Estate
Before you conclude that we’re about to embark on some platitude about how technology is leaving us all in the dust (we’re not going to do that), take a moment to think about your current digital footprint. In what ways are you out there on the internet?
- Email accounts? Cloud storage (Flickr, iCloud, Amazon Cloud, Google Docs)?
- PayPal? Online bank accounts? Online recurring subscriptions?
- Websites, domain names, blogs?
Unless your head’s been buried in the sand for the last ten years, it’s likely that you have at least some of the above-named assets.
Increased Online Storage
One of the most important functions of any estate plan is an instructional letter that advises your loved ones on where they can find critically important documents—Last Wills, Trust Agreements, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, and financial instruments.
Increasingly, these sorts of documents are being stored online. Make things easy on your loved ones. Even if your critically important estate planning documents aren’t stored online, your loved ones will still need to access your digital life once you’ve exited the real world.
The first step in making life easy on your loved ones is to list your digital assets. Be careful . . . some assets might belong to your business (if you have one), so take care in discriminating who owns what (e.g. internet domain names). It can be a lot to sort through, but you’re the best person for the job. Nobody knows what you have better than you.
Understand the Fine Print
The terms of service for online providers differ markedly. Take the time to understand what you’re getting into when you sign up for a service. For example, when a person dies, his or her Facebook page can be “memorialized.” That means it can’t be accessed or altered by anyone. Make sure you’re okay with that, and remember that whatever you write will be on the web . . . potentially forever.
Be Clear on Your Wishes
Clearly communicate to your attorney or to someone that you intimately trust (i) what you have, and (ii) what you want to have done with it. If you’ve stored passwords to email accounts that you want someone to be able to access, make sure you leave a clear record. Otherwise, your loved ones might be locked out of your accounts (e.g. Facebook, as described above).
You just don’t want to leave your digital footprint to chance. Take the time to decide how you want your digital legacy handled, and then put a system in place to make sure it happens according to plan.
It’s A New Ballgame
Dealing with the issue of digital assets, not to mention hard assets like real estate, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, precious metals, business interests, etc., can be really stressful if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, we’re here to support you, and we’re old pros at dealing with these issues. Digital legacies might be a new ballgame, but they adhere to the tried and true rules of estate planning, so we can help you handle these issues without a hiccup.
Give us a call today to schedule a free Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session™. We normally charge $750 for these sessions, but until our calendar fills up for the month, we’re going to give them away!