Estate planning lawyers in Cobb County have always had to keep up with the times, and this is just as true in Georgia as it is anywhere else. Often these changes include things like new legislation, but there are other factors that need to be considered, such as differing lifestyles and advancing technologies. Have you ever stopped to wonder what happens to your Facebook when you die?
It’s a question that even the legal world is starting to address. Of course, Facebook is only one of the social networks out there, and it’s likely that more will emerge, with some taking over the spotlight. For now, Facebook is certainly one of the most talked about, as Facebook has reached a billion users. As of November of 2012, Twitter had 500 million, Google+ had 400 million, Skype had 280, and LinkedIn had 175 million. And this represents only a fraction of the social networks that are out there.
New York, Oklahoma, and Nebraska were some of the first states to start taking a look at how estate planning attorneys might assist clients in designating personal representatives to take over their social media accounts should the original owner become deceased or incapacitated. Some people are referring to this as an “online executor,” and it’s even being suggested to officially name this person in the will or trust.
What About Facebook?
While it still remains to be seen how things will play out, especially as newer technologies become part of the Cobb County estate planning landscape, Facebook (as well as many other social media networks) already does have a system in place for dealing with the death of a user.
When someone passes away, Facebook allows another person to notify them. They will need to be able to supply the individual’s full name (used on the account), email address used to create the account, and the URL of the deceased’s profile. This is done through a form. In addition, the person must report their relationship with the deceased.
At this point, Facebook will ask what should be done with the profile. Some families prefer to take the entire thing down. Others choose the option of “memorializing” the page. When this happens, Facebook allows only those who were already confirmed as friends to see and post on the page. Many friends do this as a way to leave memories or express condolences to those left behind. If the account has been memorialized, it is removed from the general search function.
Another common option is for people to create their own pages in memory of a friend or family member. This can even be done in conjunction with the memorializing of the original page. The benefit is that this allows those who were not confirmed friends on the original account to leave messages, post photos, etc.
So, do you need to get a Cobb County will lawyer involved when it comes to your Facebook account? The answer to that is “maybe.” If your account is part of your business strategy, for example, you might find it to be even more imperative. Even for those who just use Facebook and other social media for personal communication, naming an online executor is something to consider.
Our Cobb County wills, trusts and probate law firm can help you get started in creating a digital asset protection plan that best meets your personal or business needs. For more information or to schedule a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, please give our office a call at 770-425-6060.
Will and trust lawyers in the Atlanta, Georgia, area recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to estate plans. Every situation is different, and each person needs individualized attention. While there are services that offer cookie-cutter forms that will supposedly allow you to set up a decent plan, there is no comparison to working with an actual estate planning attorney who can work with human understanding to meet your real needs.
For example, the needs of women have been changing dramatically over the past several years. Gone are the days when a woman was expected to stay home and live on an “allowance” if her husband chose to give her one. Instead, so many women today have their own jobs, their own finances, and their own desire to protect their assets.
Older Women and Widows
In addition, women typically live longer than men. So, even if the husband was originally in charge of working with the will and trust lawyer, once he has passed away, the widow has an entirely new set of needs. She needs to make sure that her estate is able to support her as costs continue to rise, as well as to determine what she would like to have happen to her assets after her own death.
Not all estate planning lawyers in the Atlanta GA area are current with the times, either. There is still a tendency to create trusts that will “take care of them” without them actually having any say over the contents of the trust. Today’s women are often quite capable of managing their own finances and are better served by having flexibility to grow their funds rather than being restricted by the trust.
There are plenty of reasons that a younger woman should to meet with an Atlanta will and trust lawyer, too. In the case of a single mother, assigning a guardian is critical in case of the mother’s death or incapacitation. If a guardian is not legally named, the courts will step in and choose a guardian for the child without taking the mother’s wishes into consideration. An estate planning attorney may also advise younger mothers to consider setting up a trust for their child(ren) and maybe even to look into life insurance policies that could be used to fund the child(ren)’s future.
Whether married or not, many younger women have careers and would benefit from retirement planning in this earlier stage of life. By being proactive early on, a woman can set up her 401k and other accounts to make sure she realizes her long-term financial goals. Looking to retire young, to pay for your kids’ college, or to travel the world? A will and trust lawyer in metro Atlanta can help put things in motion now to make that a reality later.
If you have a significant other in your life, it makes sense for the two of you to work together with your Atlanta estate planning attorney to make sure that your goals align and that your plans are compatible. Your attorney can help you properly deal with “his, hers and ours” to ensure that your assets are titled properly and that your financial house together is built on a solid foundation.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Of course it makes sense that Cobb County wills and estates attorney would tell you to create a will, right? Our job is to help people plan for what will happen to their estates once they’re gone. But, having been involved in estate planning in Cobb County for such a long time, it’s clear that message of proper planning is something more people still need to hear.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of four brief reasons that explain why you need a will…and why it must be created sooner, rather than later. There are certainly many other aspects to consider, but these can have a great impact on the future of your estate:
Reason You Need a Will #1: It Saves Money
There are so many financial issues that come into play once an individual has passed away, and it really does take a trained lawyer to understand them and come up with a solid game plan. An estate planning attorney is able to help you take advantage of tax benefits that you might not have otherwise known were available, as well as help you save an incredible amount of money that can be passed on to your heirs.
Reason You Need a Will #2: It Protects Your Family
Not all adults have minor children, but those who do should have a will in place that names who they want to be their child(ren)’s legal guardian in case of death or incapacitation. If you and your wills lawyer in Cobb County have not formally and legally laid out this information, then it will be up to the courts to determine who will raise your children in your absence. Keeping your will updated also protects other family members, as you can determine what goes to whom, rather than having family members cause fights and drama over your estate.
Reason You Need a Will #3: It Keeps Real Estate Intact
Do you own a house or other property? If so, and you pass away without a will, the courts will likely pass co-ownership of that property to your heirs. What happens when some of your heirs want to keep the property and others want to sell it? What if you specifically want a certain heir to inherit your property? What if you don’t want your heirs inheriting the property and would rather leave it to someone outside the family instead? Without a will, the answers to all of these questions will be completely out of your control.
Reason You Need a Will #4: You Might Not Be Allowed to Do It Later
One of the requirements of a valid will is that the person creating it is of “sound body and mind.” If you become victim of an illness or injury that brings your ability to make sound judgments into question, you may be unable to put together a legally binding will later on. Anyone who does not agree with your decisions can simply contest the will, saying that you were not competent to make those choices; and the whole thing could end up in court.
Of course, there are many, many other reasons to meet with an Cobb County lawyer and have an estate plan designed that addresses your unique legal and financial needs. We’re happy to help you get started with the process, so if you have further questions about wills here in Cobb County or you’d like to move forward protecting the people and things you love, please give our office a call at 770.425.6060 and ask to schedule a free Georgia Family Treasures Planning Sessions with the mention of this article ($750 value).