Recently in Digital Asset Trust Category

September 4, 2012

Who Ownes your Itunes Account? and Bruce Willis

digital_assets.jpgLast week there were several articles which brought light to many that our online identities are just licenses which will expire upon out death. While this concept is new to some, most lawyers understand this. Unfortunately there appear to be some who do not understand that we are dealing with licenses which expire upon death, because they are recommending that their clients deal with these assets using a traditional will. While they understand that a will only deals with assets that exist after death, they probably do not understand that your iTunes , Amazon , Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter accounts are licenses, which if owned individually, will not survive the death of the creator.

A Trust or Business entity can survive death! They are fictitious entities which are created by state statutes which do not have to dissolve upon death. A trust generally has provisions for beneficiaries unlike a business entity.

Last weekend the Wall Street Journal and several other publications ran articles on Who inherits your iTunes account?
Over the weekend there were several stories in the UK and Australia about Bruce Willis and his massive iTunes account with 80,000 or so songs. Today it is being reported that Bruce has no plans on suing Apple Computer over his iTunes account.

While your Amazon and iTunes accounts may be the most popular and have the most perceived value to people, it is often their other accounts that make more sense to try to protect in a DAPTrust.

If your mortgage goes to your email account and you die or become incapacitated, who will know who or how much to pay? Will they know soon enough to save your home from foreclosure, or will you incur thousands of dollars in legal fees because you signed up for electronic billing?

Will your family have the right to access your digital photos? Can you family realize value in your Facebook, or Twitter accounts to contact your "Friends" on your behalf to let them know of your illness, condition, or passing? Could your family benefit financially by allowing others to contact your "Friends" who may be aligned similarly in business?

While the iTunes angle is appealing, the other reasons are the real reasons one should plan to deal with his or her Digital Assets. Ensuring that you children can listen to your older outdated music is a nice thought, but can you remember the last time you pulled out one of your parents records or tapes to listen to it.

If you are interested in planning for your Digital Assets you might consider talking with an estate planning professional about a Digital Asset Trust - DAPTrust.com

April 19, 2012

Law Review Article on Digital Assets & Estate Planning

John B. Conner has written a Law Review article in the Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal titled "DIGITAL LIFE AFTER DEATH: THE ISSUE OF PLANNING FOR A PERSON'S DIGITAL ASSETS AFTER DEATH"

The article starts off discussing issues of digital assets and estate planning by defining digital assets and then discussing issues in estate planning created by digital assets.

It goes on to talk about how websites are dealing with digital assets and privacy acts as the relate to deceased users with social networking, web-based email, blogs and other online content.

Mr. Conner then give some suggestions for dealing with digital assets properly through planning, and some of the problems with using standard wills or other documents.

He then discusses post mortem identity theft and content theft from the deceased blogs and concludes that as the Internet continues to grow the need for estate planners who are able to deal with digital assets will continue to expand. Some state are attempting to implement legislation to help deal with these issues but those may only help if you die in one of those states.

I have recognized the need for planning for your digital death for several years and have been dealing with clients to design systems that will help provide for their digital death. If your current estate plan has not contemplated your digital death, perhaps you should talk with someone who understands how to deal with this unique class of assets.

While we have been saying this for years and it is the reason we created the original Gun Trust it is nice to see others in the legal community begin to recognize the difference and purpose in firearms trusts. Our trust are now designed for all firearms and not just NFA firearms.

April 6, 2012

Digital Asset Trusts: To my loving wife I leave my iTunes account


Estate planning is an important event in one's life. The fruits of a life time of hard work, passed down in the hopes that they will serve their next owner well. But in this modern age we live in, online digital assets are frequently left out of the estate planning process.

Much of our the time we spend each day is on the internet. How much of your information and is floating out there on the internet Between Facebook, PayPal, Flickr, twitter, iTunes, email addresses, passwords, user names and passwords, we have a lot of information that is not readily available to others if we should become incapacitated or die. In this age of the internet what happens to all of that personal info when we finally shed our mortal coil and update our Facebook status to dead? Do we want to loose our Facebook account when we die? Once the status is updated to deceased, it cannot be modified, updated, or used for other purposes. It continues to exist, just as you left it, until the asteroid strikes earth, or the apes rise up, or whatever your favorite end of the word scenario is, ends up happening. There may be value to your family or estate in being able to communicate with your previous friends.

To some this is perfectly acceptable. Some Facebook albums just never need to be seen again, for the good of all mankind. The problem arises when there is something worth saving, something worth passing down. The picture of you two on graduation day, wedding photos, that blog about the summer you spent in Europe, or photographic proof of how much more attractive your grandma was at your age. The memories and happiness that these photos will bring your loved ones is immeasurable. There may be things that your family wants to remove or modify. Something that was important to you, which they can now keep close, fondly reflect on, or pass down themselves. The hitch is only you knew your log in info, and your dead, and those close to you can't guess the answer to your asinine password hint question. What is the name of my mother's favorite pet? Seriously.... she lived to a hundred and had 9 cats when she died. How am I supposed to guess that.

The problem of how to handle digital assets is new, but the solution on the other hand is not. The formation of a trust to manage your digital assets can insure that before you pass on, you can form a plan to you give those closest to you the tools to ensure that the virtual you, that online life you build, isn't quarantined in internet limbo, but safely in the care of those you choose.

July 28, 2011

DAP Trust: Dealing with your Digital / Online Rights and Propert Correctly.

Today there is a big hole in most estate plans. Most estate plans do not deal with the property and licence rights that almost all Americans have accumulated with their online lives.

What online assets should be concerned with?

  • Email Accounts - Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, Comcast, AOL ...
  • Social Networking Sites - Facebook, Linked In, Google +, Twitter, MySpace ...
  • Online Storage Accounts, iCloud, Carbonite, Drop Box, mac.com ...
  • Financial Accounts - Bank accounts, Stock Accounts, Home Loans, Student Loans ...
  • Photo Storage Accounts - Kodak, Flicker
  • Personal or Company Websites and Blogs
  • Online Businesses Accounts - Amazon, Walmart.com, Go Daddy.com, other online merchants.
  • Auction Sites - Ebay
  • Music and Application Accounts - iTunes, Amazon, Android ...
  • Virtual Property - Second life, World of Warcraft, other role-playing identities
  • Payment services - PayPal

Some of the major issues in dealing with Digital Assets we must first determine if we are dealing with a license or a property right. By definition, most licenses expire upon death so the right to asset does not exist when you die. Next you must determine how you will deal with these assets upon your death or prior to your death to preserve access, right of use, limit risks to users for damaging the estate for improper use, and transfer the assets. There are attempts to deal with these issues with software alone, a will, a trust, software and a will, and software with a trust.

One of the problems in dealing with these issues with software alone is that their may be no legal right for the person to access the items and the software may be in conflict with other legal documents like a will or trust.

The next major problem occurs with a legal document only. These can be broken down into two areas. First, the legal document may have no effect on an asset. IE a Will cannot generally transfer a license as it does not exist upon death. Next, the individual is unlikely to keep the legal documents up to date with instructions on how to access the account. In addition, the individuals are unlikely to update passwords as they change. The trend is to require monthly updates to the more secure sites.

What seems to be the best solution: A DAP Trust with integrated software that allows you to update and create beneficiary designations within the trust on the Fly.

If you have a Florida Estate Plan that does not address your digital life or would like to create a DAP Trust for your Digital Assets, Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with Digital Asset Protection.


June 28, 2011

What to do with your Internet passwords when you die?

digital_assets.jpgComing of age in this digital world has its luxuries, but those luxuries come with their own set of complexities. Face Book enables you to connect with friends; blogging sites (such as this one) allow you to express your ideas to the world; and paying your bill over the Internet is convenient and environmentally friendly. What do all these different types of luxuries have in common? You must remember your password in order to access the information on them. These websites can add up quickly, and so too can the passwords that access them. Then throw in all the passwords you have for work in addition to all the passwords for your personal life, and these can be hard to remember when you are firing on all cylinders.

Digital Asset Protection.

Now, throw in an accident where you either pass away or are mentally incapable and there is a vast amount of information that you or your estate needs to access. If you have a Digital Asset Protection Trust , you will likely be taken care of. By having a Digital Asset Protection Trust , you decide who gets your online account information and what they can do with that information. To give you peace of mind, your Digital Asset Protection Trust attorney has attorney-client privilege with you, ensuring that the people who have access to your information, should a tragedy occur, will only know of those online accounts which you personally have laid out. It is never too early to begin preparing yourself in case a tragedy occurs.

December 7, 2010

Oklahoma Law Lets Executors manage Online Social Media Accounts

digital_assets.jpgA new law in Oklahoma appears to let estate executors have the power to access, administer, or terminate online social media accounts of the deceased. This law is in direct contradiction to the licensing arrangements of most online accounts and it has yet to be seen how and if the law will provide rights to estates.

The law should remind the people as they go about their estate planning that, in addition to their personal and real property, they should make plans for the vast amount of intellectual property they will leave behind.

As digital photo accounts, iTunes accounts, cell phone applications, and email accounts replace their traditional counterparts with many people, it is becoming more important than ever to address these assets in every estate plan.

If you would like to know more about a Digital Asset Protection Trust contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who is familiar with Digital Asset Protection to discuss your circumstances and options.

August 2, 2010

Estate Planning and Commercial Services

digital_assets.jpgEstate planning for Digital Assets is a topic that was covered in a two part article by Oregon Estate Planning Attorney on his Wealth Law blog. In the second part of his article Estate Planning and "Virtual Assets" - Part 2 Michael discusses the importance of determining who should receive your virtual assets and cautions readers in the use of commercial services to hold your virtual assets because of the risk of loss associated with the improper storage or release of the assets to others.

While these are valid points, a bigger concern in my mind is that most of these commercial services appear to violate the the terms of the licenses by allowing others to use your accounts after your death and potentially create liability to your estate. The Digital Asset Protection Trust is the only solution that appears to resolve the legal issues and deal with digital assets correctly. To create a Digital Asset Protection Trust contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to discuss your circumstances.

August 1, 2010

Is a Virtual Asset Instruction Letter Enough to Protect Digital Assets?

digital_assets.jpgEveryday there is becoming an increasing need for Digital Asset protection as more and more digital assets are created. In Estate Planning and "Virtual Assets" - Part 1, a recent article written by Washington attorney Michael Walker, he discusses digital assets and recommends doing two things to protect your digital afterlife. First, he recommends integrating digital assets, or "virtual" assets, into your estate plan. By choosing a trustworthy representative for your estate, he suggests this will properly integrate the assets into the estate. Next, Walker proposes creating a virtual asset instruction letter (or VAIL) that will list all of your online accounts and assets. Included in this list will be the web addresses, user names, and passwords to give your designated representative access these accounts.

While it is important to include these assets in an estate plan, simply choosing a dependable and trustworthy representative may not be enough to secure your digital assets after you are gone. Even with a VAIL list, digital assets may be lost if the username/password is changed. Additionally, a VAIL does not resolve the problem that digital assets are expiring licenses. The best solution to this problem is to create a Digital Asset Protection Trust that will form the accounts in the name of a trust so that when you die, the entity that owns the license is still in existence. For more information on protecting Digital Assets, consult your Florida Digital Asset Trust Lawyer for guidance before your digital death day.

July 29, 2010

Second Life After Death

Second_life.jpgWhile video games have become increasingly realistic over the last few years, they still cannot compete with the virtual world reality of computer based Internet services. To some, SecondLife.com may seem like a game, but to others it really is a "second life." Second Life is a website that allows users to interact with each other by downloading a software program. Each user creates an avatar that can resemble himself, a celebrity, or anyone they can imagine. All users interact, socialize, and even conduct business with each other in the same world known as "the grid."

One of the unique abilities built into the software is a modeling tool that allows the user to build virtual objects in the virtual world. The terms of service guarantee that the users will retain all copyrights to the substances they design and create. With their digital rights management, the virtual community of Second Life generated approximately $55 million of real money last year. By having such a unique way to create an asset, the user must choose a unique way to protect it for heirs.

I would suggest a Digital Asset Trust because Second Life will only transfer an account when there is a relevant legal documentation. By setting the account up in the name of a trust, licenses and use restrictions will no longer apply to transfer of property to another. If you would like assistance in protecting your Second Life account and property, contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer today.

July 28, 2010

Mother Finds Comfort After Daughter's Death Through Facebook

fingerprint-scanner.jpgIn a recent TIME article written by Gaelle Faure, the tragedy of daughter's death is told. Like many parents of teenagers and young adults, Pam Weiss has never had a social networking account of any kind. Many older generations have remained reluctant to create a Facebook or MySpace account due to their lack of technological expertise. However, any lack of expertise did not stop Weiss from turning to Facebook when her daughter died in a sledding accident back in 2007. Knowing that her daughter, a UCLA student, had an account with Facebook prompted Weiss to use the social network to find photos memorializing her daughter. Before long Weiss was reliving several memories her daughter shared with friends through the contacts Weiss made online.

Back in 2007, Facebook's policy was to take down the profile of a deceased user 3 months after their death. Since that time, Facebook has amended their policy to allow loved ones a way of honoring the deceased. This policy sends the profile into a memorial state in which many features such as status updates are removed. No friends can be added, and only the friends of the deceased on the day of their death may view the profile. Facebook also seals the profile from any future log-in attempts but leaves the wall open for family and friends to pay their respects.

As the online presence of individuals continues to grow, more and more information that was once written on paper is stored digitally. To ensure these memories are not lost forever in cyberspace, you should take action now. The best option is create a Digital Asset Protection Trust that would incorporate your digital assets in your Florida Estate Plan. Permitting an experienced Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to help to achieve your goals will guarantee your digital assets are kept safe.

July 16, 2010

Update Intellectual Property in Estate Planning

In today's society, intellectual property rights are rapidly increasing for those individuals that are business savvy and artistically or scientifically talented. Intellectual property rights (aka intangible assets) include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and publicity rights. In most instances, intangible assets are obtained as a direct result of someone's job, profession, or trade. With the vast expansion of the Internet, many new intangible assets have been acquired in the last 10 - 15 years. Therefore, the issues involved with these assets are continually evolving and the governing law is struggling to keep up.

The rules governing these intangible assets and the way they are treated when passed through an estate is anything but clear. There are a few key issues that should be addressed when intellectual property is incorporated into an estate. First, valuing the asset always poses a challenge, especially when the formula involves reducing the future earnings to present value. How to address current and future income from the asset is another key issue. Next, some intangible assets have a specific life for which the owner has exclusive rights. According to federal law, copyrights last for the life of the author plus 70 years. On the other hand, patent rights are divided into two categories with design patents receiving 14 years and utility patents receiving 20 years.

Furthermore, intellectual property creates a unique concern with the return of the Federal Estate Tax in 2011 and the looming effect on everyone with a slightly more than modest estate. For example, the executor of a best-selling author's estate may be forced to sell the future publication rights of a book in order to cover estate taxes. The author may be uncomfortable with the thought that his unfinished work could be published once he is gone. Enhancing your estate with a life insurance trust can guard against these estate tax concerns.

Many complicated matters of estate planning revolve around intangible assets. To address the concerns herein, contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer today to make sure the distribution of your assets is done according to your final wishes and determine if a Digital Asset Protection Trust is something you should be considering.

July 2, 2010

Digital Asset Trust and Picture Sharring

fineprint.jpgDigital Asset Protection Trust can help preserve your pictures and other website information after you die or if you become incapacitated.

Most picture sharing websites promote the freedom to assign ones property rights to another. While all of these websites prohibit reselling the account to another, Flickr was the only picture sharing website that prohibited the assignment of rights in their terms and conditions of use. This may be due to their affiliation with Yahoo! which has one standard user agreement for many of the websites they own.

Part of the appeal of picture sharing sites is that they allow many family members and friends to view your pictures. Although it may not be illegal to assign your rights to the pictures, they may be deleted automatically if your account is deactivated due to inactivity. Therefore, a Digital Asset Trust should be created to protect your Digital Assets from being destroyed when you pass away.





Picture Sharing WebsitesDeactivationAssignable
Flickr"Extended Period of Time"NO
Shutterfly180 DaysYES
Kodak GalleryPaid - 5 years
Free Trial - 90 Days
YES
SnapFish1 yearYES
For more information on how a Digital Asset Protection Trust can help you and your estate contact a Digital Asset Protection Trust Lawyer

June 17, 2010

Digital Death Day

Digital Death Day is the idea that when we die physically, we may want to decide what happens to our digital profiles and accounts, whether that entails deleting or claiming the information. In the physical world individuals tend to leave paper trials so that their heirs may find important documents, but in the digital world the paper trial vanishes. Whether assets are economically or sentimentally valuable assets, they may be lost when we die.

Recently, a conference was held in California which discussed some of the issues involved with digital assets and what becomes of them when we die. Participants included attorneys, funeral directors, hospice services, obituary columnists and memorial services. In addition, representatives from many digital asset services offering digital afterlife management. The problem with many of these is that although they provide a way to pass on account information, they do not provide a legal means to access them or use the assets which could create liability for the violations of the licensing agreement as well as to others in the estate.

As the digital environment grows and the area of law develops, many people will seek to ensure that their legacy remains after they are gone. In the future individuals who use a computer to store information should utilize a Digital Asset Protection Trustfor all their digital assets to pass to their heirs. Consult your Digital Asset Protection Trust Lawyer for guidance on how to protect and distribute your digital assets before your digital death day.

June 16, 2010

When do you Digital Assets Expire and are they Assignable

fingerprint-scanner.jpg

We have started reviewing digital assets for whether they are assignable and when they will be deactivated.

There are services that purport to pass on login information to who you designate after you die. Remember that such a transfer does not appear to be legal and may create liability to the beneficiaries of your estate if damage is done to them or information is obtained by and used by others. The best way to address this issue is to create a Digital Asset Trust and have the trust own the assets, that way there is no transfer upon your death only a change in management- the trustee.

Below is our first summary of some of the major services. A Digital Asset Trust can prevent the loss of valuable Digital Assets upon your death.

Service Time Before Deactivation Assignable
AOL Screen Name: 90 Days
Free Email: 30 Days
No
Yahoo Extended period of time No
Hotmail Bing Cashback: 12 months
Paid Subscription when service ends
No
Gmail Nothing in terms No
PayPal 2 Years No
For more information on how to manage your digital assets contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer or Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer.
May 28, 2010

Digital Asset Trust Lawyer: Digital Death Day

Digital Death Day is the idea that when we die physically, we may want to decide what happens to our digital profiles and accounts, whether that entails deleting or claiming the information. In the physical world individuals tend to leave paper trials so that their heirs may find important documents, but in the digital world the paper trial vanishes. Whether assets are economically or sentimentally valuable assets, they may be lost when we die.

Recently, a conference was held in California which discussed some of the issues involved with digital assets and what becomes of them when we die. Participants included attorneys, funeral directors, hospice services, obituary columnists and memorial services. In addition, representatives from many digital asset services offering digital afterlife management attended including Entrustet, Legacy Locker, online-legacy.com, digitaldeath.eu, and digitalestateplanning.com.

As the digital environment grows and the area of law develops, many people will seek to ensure that their legacy remains after they are gone. In the future individuals who use a computer to store information should utilize a Digital Asset Protection Trust for all their digital assets to pass to their heirs. Consult your Florida Digital Estate Planning Lawyer for guidance on how to protect and distribute your digital assets and Digital Asset Protection before your digital death day.