Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Article on Sex Post Facto: Advising Clients Regarding Posthumous Conception

BabyBenjamin C. Carpenter (Minneapolis, Minnesota) recently published an article entitled, Sex Post Facto: Advising Clients Regarding Posthumous Conception,  ACTEC, Vol. 38, No. 2 and 3 (Fall 2012/Winter 2012).  Provided below is the abstract to his article:

Apart from tax considerations, trust and estate law is often viewed by outsiders as a somewhat dusty area of the law. However, few examples better illustrate the intersection of law and technology than posthumous conception and estate law. While judges, legislators, and commentators have tacked some of the issues created by posthumous conception, few estate planning lawyers discuss the issue with their clients. Such hesitance has been understandable, given the moral sensitivities involved with posthumous conception and the relatively small likelihood that it will affect any one particular client. However, that likelihood is becoming greater with each passing year, and, in the context of grandchildren, the possibility of posthumously conceived children is out of the clients' control. Rather than ignoring this possibility and leaving the result to chance (or litigation), lawyers have the opportunity-if not the responsibility- to raise the issue with their clients and provide them the opportunity to ex-press their intentions. Ultimately, whether to address the issue in an instrument is the client's choice, but she cannot make this choice is she is not made aware of the issue. With this Article, estate planning attorneys will have the background necessary to introduce the topic to clients, to educate clients about the technology itself, the legal responses to date, and their various options, and then to draft language to carry out the clients' interest -whatever it may be. 

March 4, 2014 in Articles, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Facebook News Release Reveals Two Updates

FacebookAs I have previously discussed, on February 21, 2014 a news release stated Facebook has come up with a new way for users to cope with death. When a user dies, the mourners can request that the account be memorialized. The memorialized page used to be available only to the deceased's Facebook friends. Now, memorialized accounts will be left on the same privacy setting the user had on the account. An additional change mentioned in the news release is the ability for a Facebook friend of the deceased to submit a "Look Back" movie request for the deceased's account. This option is only available after the account of the deceased has been memorialized. The new "Look Back" feature has been available since February 4, 2014.

See Jim Lamm, Facebook Updates Its Policies For Deceased Users, Digital Passing, Feb. 26, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 2, 2014 in Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Facebook After Death

FacebookFacebook has come up with a new way for users to cope with death. Facebook has now slightly altered what happens to your Facebook account when you die. When a user dies, the mourners can request that the account be memorialized. The memorialized page used to be available only to the deceased's Facebook friends. Now, memorialized accounts will be left on the same privacy setting the user had on the account. Facebook believes that this option better reflects what the deceased would have wanted. “We are respecting the choices a person made in life while giving their extended community of family and friends ongoing visibility to the same content they could always see,” Facebook said. 

 

See Steven Maimes, What Happens to Your Facebook Account After You Die?,  Feb. 22, 2013.

 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 28, 2014 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Swedish Court Holds Text Messages Not Valid Will

Text-message

Before committing suicide, a 27-year-old Swedish man spent his last hours sending his family and friends text messages detailing what they would inherit.

A Swedish district court ruled that the SMS testament was valid, but an appeals court overturned this verdict.  Inheritance law expert Margatreta Brattstrom had this to say about Sweden’s inheritance laws, “Our inheritance laws are ancient and a lot has happened since the early 20th century when the rules were written down.”  She points out that the man’s instructions would have remained valid if he had written them down with a pen instead of using text messages.

See SMS not a Valid Last Will and Testament: Court, The Local, Feb. 24, 2014.

February 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, New Cases, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Article on Digital Music and E-book Libraries

LexisEmily Stutts (SMU Science & Technology Law Review) has recently published an article entitled, Will Your Digital Music and E-book Libraries "Die Hard" With You?: Transferring Digital Music and E-books Upon Death16 SMU Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 371. Provided below is the introduction to the article:

If anyone should be concerned about his music collection after death, Bruce Willis should. The famous action film hero is one "Die Hard stunt-gone-wrong" from his demise, so it is unsurprising recent tabloids reported (perhaps falsely) Mr. Willis is concerned about what will happen to his vast digital music collection (reportedly valued at over $ 64,000) upon his death. 1 True or not, Mr. Willis and the rest of the world's digital purchasers have every right to be concerned.

Digital music sales soared in 2011. Consumers spent $ 5.2 billion on digital music downloads, an 8% increase from 2010. 2 iTunes, one of the world's most popular digital music mediums, led all music retailers in the second quarter of 2012 with 29 % share of the retail music market. 3 Amazon ranked second with 16% of the retail music market; Wal-Mart was third with an 11% market share. 4 iTunes now boasts a total of 28 million songs available for download, further indicating digital music's foothold on the market. 5

In addition to the digitization of music, retailers are increasingly selling books in digital form. In fact, electronic book (hereinafter "e-book") sales recently surpassed hardcover sales: "The Association of American Publishers... reported that in the first quarter of 2012, adult e-book sales were up to $ 282.3 million while adult hardcover sales came to only $ 229.6 million." 6 This finding was up from the first quarter of 2011, when hardcover sales ...

 

 

February 18, 2014 in Articles, Books, Music, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Coping With Death Using Memorials Online

Digital memorialPeople are using technology to cope with a loved one’s death. More and more websites are allowing users to build memorials to honor loved ones. Geoffrey Fowler, Wall Street Journal contributor, writes about his own experience using a website to create a memorial. In order to choose an online service there are many factors Fowler states to consider including how simple it is to download and share photos, videos, and post stories online, how long the memorial will stay posted, accessibility, advertisements, and any the other website features. Not everyone will understand the appeal to an online memorial, but the option is useful for those who grew up with an online presence and could use online services to cope with the death of a loved one.

 

See Jacob White, Websites Offer Online Memorial Options, Wealth Strategies 2.0, Feb. 1, 2014.

 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 7, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Digital Asset Considerations

ComputerAccording to a recent survey conducted by McAfee security company, Americans give their digital assets an estimated worth of $54,000 on average. However, despite there value few people create an estate plan for their digital assets. Dividing your digital legacy is complicated because of privacy agreements and federal laws that limit account information to only authorized individuals. Andrea Coombes has made a short list of suggestions that people with digital assets should consider.

  1. Make a list of all of your online accounts so that your executor can identify your digital assets.
  2. Explain how you want to distribute the online assets.
  3. Look into the estate management options that each digital account offers.
  4. Choose a digital executor.

See Andrea Coombes, Who Gets Your Digital Fortune When You Die?, Market Watch, Jan. 10, 2014. 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

January 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Online Switch Could Lead To More Fraud

ComputerA UK government survey has revealed that 18% of UK people do not use the Internet. The percentage continues to increase to 30% for those between the ages of 55 and 64. The percentage is even higher reaching 40% for those above age 65. There is a growing concern that the elderly will have problems with the new trial system, which has put legal processes online. The potential confusion that the elderly would encounter would mean they would have to pursue face-to-face meetings with their attorneys instead of the cheaper alternative.

 

Despite the reported 82% of people in the UK that are online, there are several drawbacks to this digital push. One is the lack of personal interaction that the digital process embraces. Another is digitizing documents such as a Legal Power of Attorney could enable fraud. These concerns have been brought to the Office of Public Guardian, which is in charge of protecting people without capacity now and in the future. The office has mentioned that there will be checks and security for any online Legal Power of Attorney documents, but have not expressed what those would be. 

See John-Paul Dennis, Digital Dilemma, Law Gazette, Jan. 20, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

January 21, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Elder Law, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Radio Show Highlights Digital Assets After Death

DigitalassetsHiawatha Bray, technology writer from the Boston Globe, and Naomi R. Cahn, Professor of Law, did a radio show on Radio Boston about what happens to digital assets after death. The two discuss what happens to the information we leave behind and what we should do to prepare our digital estates.

See Preparing the Digital Self, For Life After Death, Radio Boston Jan. 17, 2014.

January 18, 2014 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Developer Willing To Accept Online Currency for $7.85 Million Home

RichhouseA Las Vegas casino owner, Jack Sommer, is selling his Vegas home for $7.85 million dollars, and has decided to open the bidding globally by accepting online currency, bitcoin, for the deal. Bitcoin is peer-to-peer online trading in which value is purchased like dollars. However, bitcoin is not regulated. Sommer says he got the idea from his two kids who helped create and trade the online currency. Owner of the marketplace website bitcoininvegas.com, Julian Tosh, claims that the online currency could help speed up international business deals. Other businesses accept the currency as well including a California Lamborghini dealership that sold a $103,000 Tesla for 91.4 bitcoin. The value of a bitcoin was recently assessed at about $870, but is continuously fluctuating.

See Associated Press, Vegas Developer Selling $7.85M Mansion For Bitcoin, Technology News, Dec. 14, 2013.

December 15, 2013 in Current Events, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)