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

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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.

The Autobituary

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In the past, when a loved one died a funeral service would be held followed by a burial service at the local cemetery. Family and close friends would attend both services and each year some would gather round the gravesite in remembrance. The numbers, however, would get less and less as the years passed.

Mourning practices not only vary from culture to culture but also person to person. Where there is no burial service, for example following a cremation, the mourning process is generally much shorter. With the advent of the digital era, however, a new platform is emerging for people to pay their respects.

With the increasing use of social media networks, family and friends will be able to keep the remembrance of the loved ones they have lost going in perpetuity. Facebook will now memorialise a deceased person’s account and other digital media companies are providing similar services.

And with this a new trend is emerging and is attracting a rapidly growing number of followers: Writing your own obituary in the living years.

For as long as they have been in existence newspapers have contained an obituary section that was generally edited by a staff journalist. In the majority of cases, those appearing in this section were celebrities, politicians and other well-known people.

Today, people are beginning to write their own obituaries and having these posted up online when they die. They are compiling their ‘autobituaries’ (as they have been coined) to ensure that the final words on their life are not only accurate, but also express the thanks and thoughts they want to leave behind.

One autobituary that was sent to us recently by a member struck a real chord with us. He wrote, in part, that he supported the notion that people should be able to view his body after he has died in order to pay their respects. He continued: “Unfortunately, there will be no viewing because my wife adamantly refuses my request to prop me up on the sofa with a bottle of Single Malt in my hand so I would appear to my friends in death as I did in life.”

Some of the obituaries we have received are coming from people who are terminally ill and, for them, it is an important part of coming to terms with that fact. They want to ensure they have the final say online about themselves and are remembered in the way they want to be remembered.

For us here at Planned Departure, many of these self-penned obituaries have inspired us to live our lives more fully and not to miss a moment of it.

If you would like to write your own obituary, please create an account on Planned Departure today.

Types of Wills … Let’s Break it down

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Over the next few blogs we will endeavour to shed some light on the different types of Will options available in a bid to help you decide which works best for you.
A good place to start is with couples Wills, of which there are three different types, all quite similar to each other. Joint Wills, Mutual Wills and Mirror Wills

A Joint Will is a single document that two people or more agree to draw up which generally relates to sharing their property in a particular way.

This kind of Will is particularly common amongst married couples.
These Wills are normally identical or very similar and give common benefits. They tend to dictate that the surviving spouse should inherit all their property if they die first and vice versa. After the death of the second spouse, the property is shared as specified in the document. The law treats a Joint Will as being two or more separate Wills.

Mutual Wills on the other hand occur where two or more testators make separate Wills or make a joint Will and in doing so agree to confer on each other reciprocal benefits or agree to confer benefits on the same beneficiaries.

These kind of Wills have four basic requirements and a strict standard for enforceability:

1.      The agreement must be made in a particular form.
2.      The agreement must be contractual in effect.
3.      The agreement must be intended to be irrevocable.
4.      The surviving party must have intended the will to reflect the agreement.

A Mutual Will creates a binding agreement between the two parties which prevents the survivor from changing their Will and disposing of the estate in a different way. Mutual Wills are preferred by couples in a second marriage with children from a previous relationship or marriage.

Mirror Wills are exactly that, they “mirror” each other. The terms generally are similar and complementary. This is a legal document that allows a couple (married, civil partners or unmarried) to write down their wishes for when they pass away.

In all three cases these types of Wills are convenient and cost effective and they ensure that spouses are well taken care of if one dies and that the estate is passed to his children at death.

 

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To Will or not to Will?

(DIY)Do-it-yourself may work in various aspects of our lives like plastering your living room or cleaning the dust out of your laptop.
Here are some interesting figures about Wills, DIY wills and the general attitude from the public towards them.