Planned Departure – Leave memories … not a mess

Planned Departure is all about planning well in life so that you leave memories and not a mess!

It is about starting the conversation and answering some important questions such as:

  • Is your life plan ready?
  • How do you want to plan for your family?
  • Offer the best education?
  • Or gift them happiness?
  • Or hope things will eventually fall in place?
  • Have you taken any financial advice?
  • Do you have life insurance or critical illness cover?
  • Or Do you have a Will in place?
  • Have you started the important conversation?
  • Such as where all your documents are?
  • Or shared your secret recipe?
  • Does your family know your assets and investments?
  • Or your liabilities!
  • Are they aware of important online accounts?
  • Can your family find everything they need?
  • Even when you are not around?
  • Will you leave them CHAOS ? Or Mess?
  • Or Will you leave them memories?
  • Have you planned for everything? or anything?

Now you can!!

With Planned Departure,

  • Organise scattered information in one place.
  • Leave clear instructions.
  • Put everything in order.
  • Ensure everything is there even when you are not.

We can help you avoid the mess

So that you can focus on creating memories.
Planned Departure – Leave memories… not a mess!

Sign up now and start planning.

The digital vs physical issue – seen from a distance

IMG_1017

During the dotcom boom in the late 90s, the period when digital technologies were beginning to make their mark, it would have been inconceivable that digital property should be included in estate-planning documents. Ten years on and still the issue of digital legacies would seem absurd.

It took the fairly recent media disclosures of the difficulties parents faced with trying to access the social media accounts of their deceased children to highlight the issue of who actually owned this content.

Today, digital estate planning is essential because virtually every part of our lives, personal and professional, is impacted by this digital era. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and other digital gadgets have become reflections of our personalities, our interests and our identities, to the point that, for many, they have become the very fabric of our being.

In the recent 2014 Digital Impact Survey conducted by the Apigee Institute (developer of the intelligent API platform for digital business acceleration) and Stanford University’s Mobile Innovation Group, figures demonstrated that rising numbers of smartphone owners are becoming increasingly dependent on their devices. More than 90 percent reported that having a smartphone has altered how they connect with friends, and many claim they could not maintain a relationship with someone significant or find new friends without their smartphone.

Perhaps that might be seen as a sad reflection of our society today, but the reality is that digital is not going to decline any time soon and that we need to be taking a much more proactive view of the digital assets we’re accumulating.

Estate planning and administration practitioners should be discussing with their clients what they want to happen to their digital estate in the event they become permanently incapacitated or die. We hear a lot about parents’ anguish at not being able to access their children’s social media accounts after their death, but what if these children didn’t want their accounts exposed? What if they wanted them permanently erased when they die? It is vitally important that these wishes are included in any digital estate plan.

Digital property includes all digital assets such as music, films and photos, usernames and passwords, websites, Frequent Flyer Miles; anything that is stored digitally, also digital accounts (online banking, social media, online subscriptions etc) and digital hardware (smartphones, tablets, laptops etc).

Equally, there may also be different types of digital assets and digital devices – those personally owned and those owned by an online service provider and licensed under a terms-of-service-type agreement.

And herein lies a conundrum. Digital property may not necessarily comply with the same legal characteristics as physical property.

Take, for example the viability of the copyright regime; one area that has been considerably challenged by the advent of the Internet and digital technologies. The registration of domain names is a good case in point. The creation of the Internet has generated a new type of property with similar characteristics to trademark rights, but without inherent ties to the trademark law of any individual country. Since Cyberspace has no physical boundaries, defining rights in this new, valuable property presents a number of questions, including those relating to transferability, conditions for ownership (such as payment of registration fees), duration of ownership rights and forfeiture if there is abandonment.

Then there is the case of physical property – media such as books and music for example – that are generally protected by the first sale doctrine. Digital media, on the other hand, is universally governed by an EULA (end user license agreement). The purchase of such assets universally requires creating an account with the content provider, an account also governed by an EULA. As such, the first sale doctrine does not apply to digital media.

Whilst there continues to be considerable discussion internationally on this topic, there has been no formal legislative recognition of digital property in estate planning or estate administration, apart from some states in the US.

That said, there are clear definitions of what constitutes digital property and they are broad enough to cover the field for estate planning and administration purposes. A carefully drafted inventory, along with the rights of access and clear instructions for inheritance, will allow the digital estate to come into the legal possession and/or control of an executor or administrator, in the absence of a law or agreement to the contrary.

Even though the owners of digital property may have a written Will regarding their physical assets, the two property forms should be kept separate. Given the formality attendant to the execution of nonholographic Wills and the often rapidly changing nature and ownership of digital assets, Wills can be an awkward vehicle for digital property.

Furthermore, it remains unclear whether service providers will respect the terms of Wills to transfer ownership of digital assets.

A record with the Will (instead of in the Will) of where the digital inventory (including usernames and passwords) is being held is the best option.

The management of digital property is not difficult and there is a growing number of dedicated professionals who can help and support law firms with this process. The starting point is the realisation that digital property certainly has value and that is should be protected accordingly.

Children and the internet – What you didn’t know

The internet plays a major role in our lives on a day to day basis and that of our children without us realizing how long they spend online each day.

Whilst this might in itself not be a bad thing, the jury is still out on weighing the pros and cons. Key really is for parents to take responsibility of their children in terms of how they engage online.

Here are some facts and figures to show the visual seriousness of this online addiction.

internet and children

Children and the internet – How safe are they?

download (7)
No one seems too surprised by the fact that some 7.5 million users in the US alone violate Facebook’s member requirement every single day – simply by being under 13 years of age.

We have reached a stage in our digital era where digital consumers are increasingly starting younger. According to a study by the non-profit organisation, Joan Ganz Cooney Centre, more than two-thirds of 8-year-old children go online each day.

Whilst this might in itself not be a bad thing, the jury is still out on weighing the pros and cons. Key really is for parents to take responsibility of their children in terms of how they engage online.

Certainly this age of super connectivity has some drawbacks – from attention deficit, to lack of face to face engagement – having said that there are numerous positives from the way children can find out about the world around them, gain access to information, share, connect and engage – granted this is a whole new way of doing it but that does not mean it is all bad!

It is interesting to note that books were once considered bad for us – that they may indeed ‘brain wash us’. There are always two sides to any coin and the fact that we are neophobic by nature accounts for why we tend to be suspicious of any change in our lives.

Let’s focus instead on the benefits that digital offers us and ensure we keep our children safe as we would in any environment – familiar or otherwise!

 

Image Source

Do you own the tracks in your music album?

musicj

Music distribution has evolved so drastically over the last few decades that we don’t have to glance too far back to see the changes. It wasn’t that long ago cassette tapes seemed such cool ways of transporting our music, certainly less clunky than their vinyl cousins. Then the CD turned that on its head, very swiftly followed by digitalmusic.

Amidst all the hype of which sound system delivers the purest experience, few people have given too much thought to the fact that by downloading music, they are in effect relinquishing their absolute ownership of their music collections.

As emotive as films and photos, our music collections represent a vast part of our very identity and in many cases something we would like to pass on to our loved ones when we die. In fact until quite recently there was the automatic assumption that we could do just that. The entire process had just become simpler, why would it not follow that passing it on would be just as hassle free?

So what does happen to all our music when we pass away?

As it turns out our downloaded music does not belong to us. What we are purchasing when we buy a music track is the licence to play that track. Which means since we don’t own it it isn’t transferable upon death.

It’s a licence granted to the purchaser and only the purchaser and when we pass away that license passes away with us. In fact the license that we buy to play a track or album comes with an extremely limited set of rights.

According to This is money more than £30billion of films, music and books bought through iTunes and Amazon could vanish when their owners die.

In 2012 it was alleged that ‘Die Hard’ actor Bruce Willis was preparing to sue Apple in a battle over who would own his vast collection of digital music when he died. It was alleged that Willis had asked his advisors to set up family trusts to “hold” his downloads, which according to friends include thousands of classic rock tunes and British acts from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin as well as modern performers including Adele. However, it was later found out that this was a baseless rumour without a known source.

The fact is that this is an issue we all need to look into more carefully, particularly if we value our musiccollections. One solution could be to include all relevant account information when you set up an inventory of your online assets to be passed on to nominated verifiers and beneficiaries. There are those who simply go back a step and burn all their music back onto CDs, going forward however some sort of deal needs to be struck between suppliers and consumers to ensure an individual’s music legacy is protected and passed on.