Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Online 'Girlfriend' Scams Grandfather Out Of Large Sum Of Money

GrandfatherThe elderly are increasingly being targeted by online scam artists. In this case an 80-year-old Australian man ended up transferring over $300,000 over a two year period to a person who pretended to be his online girlfriend. “The thing that gets to you the most is the betrayal of trust,” said the elderly victim known as Robert. The issue of online scams that target the elderly is a global one and is not just limited to Australia. People need to be more cautious and aware about the people that they deal with online. There are a lot of fraudsters and scam artists who use the internet to take advantage of vulnerable senior citizens. It is important to take necessary precautions about what information to disclose online.

See Jordan Cutts and Emma Canavan, Grandfather scammed out of $300,000 by online ‘girlfriend,’ The West Australian, January 27, 2016.

January 28, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Lawyer Wins $350,000 Judgment In Defamation Lawsuit Over Bad Online Review

JudgmentAn appeals court in Florida has upheld a $350,000 judgment for a lawyer who sued a former client for defamation over negative reviews that the client posted about the lawyer on the internet. In this case the client had posted reviews that claimed the attorney charged the client “four times the amount of fees originally quoted, that she lacked integrity, and that she falsified a contract.” The court of appeals rejected the defendants First Amendment argument holding that their review had made factual allegations that the evidence showed to be false. The reviews that a person posts online can have a negative impact on a person’s livelihood, especially if they are making false and libelous allegations about that person.

See Lawyer Awarded $350,000 Based On Negative Online Reviews Posted By Former Client, Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli, January 22, 2016.

January 25, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Impact Social Media Has Had On Grieving Death

David bowieOnline social media has changed the way society grieves death. After the passing of musician David Bowie there were many tributes and outpourings of love and support on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Public digital expressions of grief have become an important part of the healing process in modern society. People’s online memory is becoming a more important aspect of their lives. Facebook has recognized these changing trends and is allowing users to designate a person to be a “legacy contact” who would have limited control over their account when they pass away. This will permit people to memorialize their Facebook profiles for loved ones. The rising importance of social media in everyday life is changing the ritual of mourning death.

See Michael Reilly, The Internet Has Changed How We Deal With Death, MIT Technology Review, January 21, 2016.

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

January 23, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Review Site That Financial Advisors Should Know About

Grading advisorThe internet is making it easier for clients to be less personal and more objective when looking for an advisor, and there is one review site in particular that financial advisors should be aware of. “Enter GradeMyAdvisor.com, a site that aims to rate advisors objectively based on portfolio performance and the risk taken to achieve that performance.” The website judges a professional’s competency as an advisor and uses many of the same analytics that firms often use to evaluate their own advisors. The service is free and private for investors which means that advisors are going to be unaware if their client is using the service. Some experts have expressed concerns that this online service could easily backfire for advisors. Regardless of one’s opinion on the benefit of this service this is something that financial advisors should know about.

See Zina Kumok, GradeMyAdvisor: What Advisors Should Know, Investopedia, January 15, 2016.

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

January 16, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

How Technology Can Reduce The Costs Of Long-Term Care

ABLEMore people are living longer lives, and as a result many people are going to need long-term care. This type of care is very expensive, but technology can go a long way in helping to defray some of the costs. Technology is helping to reduce the costs of long-term care in many ways from remote monitoring to telemedicine. Remote monitoring can be a way for friends or family members to keep tabs on a loved one even if they are across the country. This type of technology can be as simple as using skype or video monitoring and can eliminate the cost of hiring an aid to monitor the patient. This article also discusses devices that can take a patient’s vitals and alerts them if they need to take their medicine.

See Donna Fuscaldo, Long-Term Care: How Technology Can Defray the Cost, Investopedia, December 31, 2015.

January 2, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

More College Students Using Airbnb To Rent Out Dorm Rooms

Dorm roomThis article discusses a growing trend of college students renting out their dormitories using Airbnb. Tuition costs have risen more than 46% between 2001 and 2012 and more cash strapped students are looking for creative ways to save money. The people that are renting dorm rooms on Airbnb are coming from outside of the traditional student demographic. Sometimes the logistics of renting out a dorm room can be difficult and the student may need to be there to check guests in or get them past the front desk security. The residence halls at some universities are resisting this trend saying that subleasing a dorm room violates the student contract. A person thinking about renting their room out using Airbnb should research their campus policies to find out if subleasing is permitted.

See Sarah Kessler, College Students Are Renting Out Their Dorm Rooms On Airbnb. What Could Go Wrong?, Fast Company, December 16, 2015.

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

December 27, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Developing A Strong Marketing Plan For 2016

Good planThis column provides an agenda that firms should follow to develop a strong marketing plan for 2016. It is important to be brutally honest when evaluating the good and bad aspects of this years marketing plan when developing a plan for next year. Think big when setting up a strong client acquisition goal, but make sure the goal is realistic. Carefully plan out what actions will need to be taken and what tactics the firm will need to adopt. Creating a fixed routine and then committing to it is an important thing for a firm to do if it wants to accomplish its goals. Finally, it is important to cut down the marketing plan and adopt simple and action friendly language.

See Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols, Create a Rockin' Marketing Plan in Less Than 45 Minutes, Wealth Management, December 10, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

December 10, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Five Apps People Can Use To Get Their Financial Affairs In Order

The appsThis article discusses five apps that people can use to get their financial affairs in order:

  1. FileThis. This app can download account statements and it offers its user an account overview and bill due-date reminders.
  2. ItsDeductible. Is an app that lets people record contributions and donations that they make for tax purposes.
  3. DropBox. A cloud-based storage service that lets people save important documents and paperwork.
  4. Mobile banking. Provides people with the opportunity to do important personal banking from their smart-phones.
  5. Mint. This is a personal finance aggregator with over 2.5 million monthly users.

See Liz Weston, Five apps to organize your financial life, Reuters, December 7, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

December 8, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 4, 2015

New Death Planning App Will Give People More Control

Smartphone13For many people planning for death can be an unpleasant topic to discuss. Thankfully there is a new App called Cake that will assist people with estate planning. “Cake will quiz users on questions from the practical to the emotional (“Is there someone you need to forgive?”) and then is intended you figure out how you’d like to be remembered after you’re gone.” This App was created in partnership with Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is the “brainchild of former health consultant Suelin Chen and palliative care specialist Mark Zang.” This new mobile-friendly web app will let users figure out what their end-of-life preferences are so that they can store and share them online. Even with this new app it is still important for people to speak with an experienced estate planner to assist with many of the complex estate planning issues that they might not know about.

See Peter Rugg, Death Planning App Cake Will Let You Swipe Right on Funeral Decisions, Inverse, December 3, 2015.

December 4, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Options For Digital Estate Planning

Digital estate planningOne of the areas of the law that have been developing in recent years concerns digital estate planning. As more people spend their lives online they will need to develop a plan for their online accounts after they pass away. There are new companies that are developing to assist people with their digital estate planning needs. Communicating with loved ones is very important for people that want their intentions to be followed. This column discusses factors that people need to consider when they do their end-of-life planning for their digital estates. Digital estate planning is something that is only going to become more important as more people spend their lives online.

See Teresa Mears, Passwords and Powers of Attorney: Your Digital Estate Planning Options, U.S. News & World Report, December 3, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

December 4, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)