Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

People Should Watch Out For Inheritance Scams

ScamThis article discusses some of the techniques used by scammers to trick people into giving them money.  For example, a person might be told that they could claim an inheritance from a long lost relative under the condition that they pay money to help set up the trust to receive the money.  A good rule of thumb is that a person should not have to spend money to receive money.  People might be told that they owe taxes to the IRS, won the lottery, or that they could get a “tax-free grant.”  It is not common for government agencies to threaten people for money over the phone so it is important for people to watch out for impostures.  Scammers might also call claiming to be a debt collector so people should make sure to actually call the number listed on their billing statement. 

See Gabriella Dunn, A long-lost relative left you money? Beware of inheritance scams, The Wichita Eagle, August 21, 2015.

August 25, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Google Updates Policies Dealing With Deceased User’s Accounts

GoogleGoogle has recently updated its service to give a decedent's surviving family members and estate administrators more options when dealing with the deceased person’s account.  Under the new policy, people will be able to upload their loved ones death certificates, obituaries, and testamentary letters.  Living users of Google services will be able to have more control over what will happen to their accounts after they die.  This new function will be similar to the “legacy” option that Facebook is currently offering to its account holders.  These changes follow in the footsteps of a more unpopular stance once taken by Google that placed a greater emphasis on privacy. 

See Google Throws Estate Planners a Bone, Wealth Management, August 20, 2015. 

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

August 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Information About Protecting Deceased Loved Ones From Identity Theft

Id theftEach year the identities of more than 2 million deceased Americans are stolen by identity thieves.  This column discusses some of the important steps people should take to protect the identities of loved ones who pass away.  One of the most important steps to take is using certified mail to send a copy of the decedent’s death certificate to the three major credit reporting agencies.  Make sure to let the agencies know that you are acting as the executor of the decedent’s estate.  The credit agencies should include a “deceased – do not issue credit” statement on the persons credit file.  It is also important to notify any financial institution that the decedent had an account with.  Identity thieves often look through obituaries for information so make sure when writing one not to include too much personal information. 

See How to Protect Your Deceased Loved Ones From Identity Theft, Elder Law Answers, August 17, 2015. 

August 18, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Google Creates New Options To Access Account Of Deceased User

GoogleGoogle has recently changed the options that estate administrators and others may use to gain access to or protect the account of a deceased user. The updated page now grants the option for someone seeking to access an account to provide the name of the deceased and other information to Google for review. Some options require the uploading of proof such as obituaries or court certified testamentary letters. In addition, Google provides users the ability to determine what will happen to their account in the event of death. As online account access becomes a bigger player in estate administration, Google's preemptive move to make gaining access easier is a welcome step forward and will hopefully spur others to take similar steps.

See David Shulman, Google Updates Page Regarding a Deceased User’s Account, South Florida Estate Planning Blog, July 30, 2015.

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

August 18, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How Using An LLC To Purchase A Home Can Protect Privacy

HomeThere are many clients who may wish to avoid the publicity of having their names published in a public report on real estate transactions.  This column suggests the idea of purchasing a home through an LLC to maintain privacy.  It is a good idea to give the LLC an obscure name to avoid taunting the reporters.  If a person registers the LLC in Delaware they could avoid having to list the members and managers in the company’s annual report.  With the advent of the internet and other forms of modern technology it is virtually impossible to maintain complete privacy, but an LLC can provide some level of cover.  This is an option that some potential home-buyers might want to think about. 

See C. Carter Ruml, Using an LLC to Maintain Privacy When Buying Residential Property, Stites & Harbison PLLC, May 31, 2015. 

August 11, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hackers Can Have People Declared Dead By Authorities

DefconComputer experts attending the annual Def Con gathering in Las Vegas discussed how hackers can virtually kill people by having them legally declared dead.  Australian computer security specialist Chris Rock delivered a presentation titled “I will kill you” that went over how computer hackers can manipulate the process of declaring a person dead.  He discussed how people can pose as doctors and funeral directors to submit the forms necessary for declaring someone dead.  One of the major incidents that event attendants discussed happened a year ago in Melbourne Australia’s Austin Hospital when an administrative error, a click in the wrong box, caused 200 death certificates instead of 200 discharge notices to be issued.

See Glenn Chapman, Def Con: Hackers can virtually kill people, manipulate death records, Australian security expert says, ABC News, August 8, 2015.

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

August 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Uniform Law Commission Finishes Its 124th Annual Meeting

UlcThe Uniform Law Commission has made revisions to a number of proposed pieces of legislation at its annual meeting in Williamsburg Virginia.  The ULC has approved a revised version of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) as well as the Uniform Athlete Agents Act.  Some of the revisions to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act include an expanded definition of “athlete agent” and “student athlete.”  The UFADAA deals with what happens with social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter.  The commission approved a total of seven acts, and the current draft of all of these acts can be read here.

See Katie Robinson, Uniform Law Commission Wraps Up 124th Annual Meeting, Uniform Law Commission, July 15, 2015. 

July 20, 2015 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

ULC Plans To Revise Uniform Fiduciary Access To Digital Assets Act (UFADAA)

UFADAAWhat happens to a person’s social media accounts after they die?  The intent behind people supporting the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) is to give estate administrators the ability to access social media accounts unless the decedent expressed otherwise in his or her will.  This column discusses some of the opposition to this piece of legislation from a lot of technology companies.  These companies proposed the Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act (PEAC) as an alternative to the UFADAA, and this legislation would only grant access to a fiduciary if the decedent expressly authorized it.  Now the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) is attempting to bridge the gap by rewriting the UFADAA.  This article addresses the revised UFADAA approach, and it also emphasizes the importance of including plans for social media accounts in an estate plan. 

See Jeffrey R. Gottlieb, ULC Rewrites ‘Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act,’ Illinois Estate Plan, July 20, 2015. 

July 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Five Great Free Retirement Calculators For Everyone

CalculatorAnyone who plans for retirement needs some basic information calculated such as earnings projections on investments and expense calculators to determine how long savings will last. This day and age the choices are many as the internet proliferates with free tools that will calculate any number of things. However, finding a respectable site that has accurate tools might be a problem but thankfully the article below offers a great run down on the free calculator websites available and the particular features of each. These websites are tremendously helpful for the novice estate planner and veteran alike and should be checked out by anyone that is seeking tools to help plan for the future.

See Rob Berger, 5 Excellent Retirement Calculators (And All Are Free), Forbes, July 12, 2015.

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

July 13, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Identity Thieves Increasingly Targeting The Dead

FuneralThe scourge of identity theft is not just a problem for the living; identity thieves have also been increasingly targeting the dead.  More than 800,000 dead persons are victimized by identity thieves each year, and annually there are 1.6 million credit applications filled out on behalf of dead people.  One consequence of this theft of credit information is that the deceased person’s loved ones who are left behind are often subjected to harassing collection calls from creditors.  When a person dies the estate’s personal representative should inform all three credit bureaus by sending them an original death certificate. 

See Kansas and Missouri Estate Planning Blog, A New “Mark” For Identity Thieves – The Dead!, Wealth Management, July 6, 2015.

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

July 8, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)