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.

Launch: Digital legacy of your emails – who should get what?

Now, pause for a moment and think – how much time do you spend on searching for or organising these emails? Also, what would happen if your email account is locked for any reason and you need to access to a critical email? Or would you want your family to access your entire inbox or just specific emails when you are not around?

Emails have become our primary medium of communication. From utility bills to bank statements and share certificates – everything is delivered via email. It is estimated that on and average, there are over 8000 emails in our inboxes. That’s a lot of emails.

Now, pause for a moment and think – how much time do you spend on searching for or organising these emails? Also, what would happen if your email account is locked for any reason and you need to access to a critical email? Or would you want your family to access your entire inbox or just specific emails when you are not around?

Our new asset type solves interesting problems like these. With our new ‘Inbox’ asset type, You can

  1. Save time because you will no longer need to search for emails in your inbox. Or upload important information manually in Planned Departure.
  2. Ensure that you have access to your critical emails even if you do not have access to your inbox for any reason
  3. Distribute specific emails to specific beneficiaries instead of giving access to the entire inbox.

It takes less than 10 secs to get started with this new feature – just forward your important emails to secure@planneddeparture.com – that’s it ! Done!

Our automated process will add emails you forward to your account and will notify you within 10 minutes! As easy as that. You don’t even have to login to Planned Departure to add information in your account!

Please have a look at our landing page for this feature

Landing page for emails

And start forwarding your emails to see this feature in action.

The digitisation effect

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The process of digitisation continues to expand, and as a consequence the link between physical geographic location and the ability to adequately set rules that apply to individuals and property is being eradicated. Facebook’s recent move towards storing passwords and usernames  is yet more proof that virtually every aspect of life (both business and personal) is becoming captured and stored in some digital form. Which is why the protection of our digital assets is rapidly becoming a major issue. In the UK alone, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that the value of digital assets is in the region of £25 billion. And that figure is set to grow exponentially.

Digital assets are defined as any property that can be found in a digital format. These include, amongst others: registered domain names (whether active or not), websites, email accounts, online bank accounts, passwords, social media accounts, databases, digital contracts and receipts, Frequent Flyer miles, financial spreadsheets, tax statements, fiat currencies such as Linden dollars and Bitcoins. They can also include electronic representations of tangible personal property.

In the vast majority of cases, people pay scant regard to the protection of these assets. In comparison with physical property they are a challenge because they are more dynamic and, in many instances, transitory.

Consider for a moment how many physical things we create in a lifetime in comparison with how many emails we write, the number of digital photos we download from our smart phones and the volumes of data we generate both online and offline. And of the latter, how many of these are converted into hard copies? Very little if any. They remain firmly entrenched in cyberspace.

In business, the issue of digital asset protection tends to relate primarily to customer data security. Cyberdefense strategies and tactics have helped address common threats from a cyberattack but they don’t address the issue of digital legacy.

Customer data security is just one aspect of digital asset protection. Whilst we continue to manufacture, sell and control tangible goods, the digital era has created new symbolic forms of economic exchange that have no physical presence. Even the representation of money is no longer required. It is now possible to acquire and exchange digital things without a physical presence of any kind.

It is here that the issue of digital asset protection can become complex. We use passwords and other security tools to protect our most valuable and sensitive property. In many cases, terms and conditions relating to usernames and passwords make it binding on the individual not to share these with anyone else.

Interestingly, in a recent study by private banking organisation US Trust, it was reported that of the wealthiest respondents, forty-six percent regularly change their passwords to protect anything stored electronically.

But what happens to that information when the owner of those usernames and passwords becomes permanently incapacitated or dies? What might the loss to a business be if workers are unable to access vital information required to ensure the ongoing operation of the firm?

Taking adequate measures to protect the company’s digital assets and maintaining control over these assets is actually protecting the business itself.

A good case study comes from solicitors Watson Mann. A close friend of senior partner Isobel Mann lost her husband (also a solicitor) suddenly,  leaving in his wake a digital trail that put his work colleagues and his family in considerable difficulty. Even though he had drawn up a Will, he had neglected the fact that most of his affairs were locked in a digital world only he had access to. He had taken adequate protection of his physical assets but not his digital property.

As Ms Mann explained, they were faced with a nightmare situation. With so many hidden trails, what were they to look for and where were they to start?

Ms Mann had to unravel and pick through her friend’s deceased husband’s digital assets to define those elements that were not only crucial to his business but also those that had sentimental and financial value to his family.

As Ms Mann noted, bank statements, for example, might come in the post: account balance, money received, bills paid – everything was traceable. In this digital era however, there may be no physical statements. Data are retained on a remote server accessible only by username and password.

When banks become aware that an account holder has died, they may freeze access to all online accounts as a precautionary measure to avoid fraud. This can cause serious issues for the deceased’s business by severely hampering the financial operations of the organisation.

According to Ms Mann, her friend was unable to access her husband’s online account because it had been set up by him using his registered username and password. Both were unknown to her.

Technology is advancing at a faster rate than the formulation of new laws that address the issue of digital assets. Even though they may be offered some protection in law, digital assets may not necessarily comply with the same legal characteristics as physical assets.

With the advent of the Internet new types of property have been created, some with similar characteristics to trademark rights but without inherent ties to the trademark law of any individual country. With cyberspace having no physical boundaries, defining rights in this new, valuable property presents a number of questions, including those relating to transferability, conditions for ownership, duration of ownership rights and forfeiture in the event of abandonment.

As Isobel Mann noted, if the owners of digital assets want them adequately protected and to generate maximum financial return for beneficiaries and future generations, it is essential that the digital assets that form part of the creator’s estate are taken into account during the estate planning process.

Even though the owners may have a written Will regarding their physical assets, Wills can be an awkward vehicle for digital assets. There are a number of reasons for this: the formality attendant to the execution of non-holographic wills, the often rapidly changing nature and ownership of digital assets, these assets may become outdated quickly as the asset disappears or takes a new form and it remains unclear whether service providers will respect the terms of Wills to transfer ownership of digital property.

Digital estate planners (or digital asset management services) allow individuals to inventory all of their digital assets, including usernames, passwords and postmortem instructions. A digital executor or verifier is named by the asset owner and this person is subsequently provided access to the digital property upon satisfactory provision of proof of death or permanent incapacity. The digital executor can then download, delete or provide to beneficiaries such assets in accordance with the instructions of the decedent.

Working in collaboration with law firms, digital asset management companies can provide a viable and cost-effective service for law firm clients.

Digital art in the 21st Century

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Van Gogh certainly would not have thought about it and Picasso I feel sure would have agreed had he understood the concept, however art, whether it be digital or etched on canvas, is still, very much art by definition.

Over the years the argument that digital art wasn’t an actual form of art because it was computer generated and had infinite copies without an ‘original’ has pretty much been silenced. As technology has evolved, so too has our views on digital art.

The difference between digital art and any other art form is the fact the artist works mainly with digital technology as an essential part of their art piece – gone are the paint brushes and easels of old.

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The first steps towards the evolution of art towards digital started in the 1950’s when a lot of artists and designers started working with mechanical devices and analogue computers.

Bear in mind during those times computers were very expensive. Only research laboratories, universities and large corporations could afford them. Regardless of these constraints, when the computer came into existence that’s when digital art started emerging.

From digital painting to animations, digital photography and 3D models, movies and games, they all come under the category of art. On the plus side they are accessible, on the downside there is no such thing as an original digital art form.

With digital art starting to dominate the art industry, it’s safe to assume that some artists may have numerous art pieces, complete and incomplete that need to be organised and saved securely, especially in the case of something happening to the artist. His friends and family may not know where all these art pieces are or what the artist in question would like to do with them.

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As with all digital assets, digital art is yet another facet which needs to be protected, stored and effectively passed on. I can think of nothing worse than an unfinished Rembrandt entombed in the ether for no one to access and enjoy….

Photographic trends made possible because of Digitization

photoIt is possible to take pictures anywhere and everywhere not just because its free, quick and effortless but because we can.

Social media pages and apps like Facebook,Instagram and Snapchat have taken advantage of this and are making billions.

When was the last time you took a picture and shared it with your friends or updated your Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter display picture?

Its the era for the photographic generation. Agree or Disagree?