Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Monday, June 15, 2015

French Regulator Pressures Google To Apply ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Globally

GoogleA French date collection regulator is pressuring Google to expand globally a right to be forgotten.  Google currently grants de-listing requests to European users.  “In May last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that European residents can ask search engines to delete results that turn up under a search for their name when they are out of date, irrelevant or inflammatory - the so-called right to be forgotten.”  EU watchdogs are currently pushing Google to implement a global policy that would give users the right to be forgotten.  Google is currently working with regulators to try to find the best way to comply with these recent regulatory decisions. 

See Leila Abboud and Julia Fioretti, Update 2-French watchdog pressures Google on “right to be forgotten,” Reuters, June 12, 2015.

June 15, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

California Assembly Passes Bill to Protect Digital Assets

Digital assetsIn today’s age of widespread social media and communication, California lawmakers are trying to address what happens to one’s digital life when they die. 

Yesterday, the state assembly approved a bill that would give guidelines for judges to follow before they could order electronic providers to turn over electronic information to the executor or administrator of an estate.  The bill, AB691, attempts to strike a balance between privacy and allowing estate administrators access digital accounts to resolve estate issues.  The bill will now go to the Senate for approval.

See Associated Press, Social Media Protected After Death Under California Bill, News 3, May 11, 2015.

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

May 12, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Don't Forget the Reward Points

PlaneMany individuals accrue reward points through credit card, hotel, and airline programs, such as frequent flier miles. These accounts should be added to the list cataloging one's digital assets, and who gets the points after the program member's death should be included in the person's will.

Even though many airlines have written policies that clearly state miles cannot be transferred at death, exceptions are sometimes made. Both United and Delta allow for some flexibility in applying the transfer policy, and may allow transfer of miles after death or divorce. The take away here is that it does not hurt to politely ask even if the rewards program has a clear prohibition on transfer.

See Deborah L. Jacobs, Loyalty Program Rules Aren't Ironclad, New York Times, May 6, 2015.

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blog Suggestion: Dean Mead Trusts & Estates Blog

BlogThe Trusts & Estates blog from Dean Mead is an excellent resource for trusts and estates news, developments, and commentary. The blog has a Florida focus, and also covers national news that effect trusts and estates practice in Florida.

May 6, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Florida Digital Assets Bill Fails to Pass

LawAs I have previously discussed, a digital assets bill was being considered by Florida lawmakers that would have given a fiduciary access and control of digital assets of a deceased or incapacitated person. However, the Florida House ended session three days early, which killed hundreds of bills including the digital assets bill.

See Associated Press, A Look At Florida Bills That Died When The House Adjourned, Gainesville Sun, Apr. 28, 2015.



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

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Online Help For Executors

LaptopWhen Daniel Stickel became the executor of his father's estate he was overwhelmed by not knowing how to proceed, and found online searches unhelpful. In response he created EstateExec.com, which charges $79 per estate for access to the guide. Stickel created it as a DIY estate administration cite that he compares to TurboTax. The site does not offer legal advice.  A warning for large and complex estates comes from Jonathan G. Blattmachr, of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, who warns that a lawyer is needed for complex estates or when the estate is facing litigation possibilities.

See Ann Carrns, Online Tools Can Ease the Burden of Being Executor of an Estate, New York Times, Apr. 7, 2015.

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

May 3, 2015 in Estate Administration, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Benefit of Cloud Based Operating in Elder Law Firm

CloudsThe use of technology can ease, assist, and expand the services provided by Elder law firms. In addition to general benefits such as cost efficiency, cloud-based firms have more flexibility in being able to take their office with them for off site visits. The availability to synch work product through services like Dropbox and Google Drive can increase collaboration and productivity.

See Michael H. Smith, Practicing Elder Law in the Cloud: How One Firm Does It, Resourceful Law.

April 29, 2015 in Elder Law, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Article on Privacy Protection in Digital Assets

Digital assetsJeehyeon Jenny Lee (Columbia University Law School) recently published an article entitled, Death and Live Feeds: Privacy Protection in Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets, (Apr. 7, 2015) Columbia Business Law Review, Forthcoming.  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

In 2014, the Uniform Law Commission approved the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) for enactment by states. After an online user dies, the act gives her fiduciary broad access to her digital assets, such as email and social networking accounts, in the name of "asset neutrality" -- the idea that digital assets should be treated like similar physical assets for the purposes of estate administration. The application of such a concept to our online lives and deaths has significant implications for user privacy and relationships between users and internet service providers. Over 20 states have already introduced bills based on the UFADAA. 

This Note argues that an asset neutral approach to digital assets is fundamentally flawed, particularly with respect to social networking and social media content. Crucially, digital assets are often linked to live, real-time feeds from other users’ accounts, and thus provide access to others’ digital assets. The Note proposes several changes to the UFADAA. Most importantly, in order to protect user privacy, fiduciary access should be limited to only the particular decedent’s digital assets and internet service providers should be required to implement this restriction.

April 24, 2015 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Poll Reveals Lack of Digital Asset Planning

LaptopA recent online poll asked 2,009 U.S. adults about what they have done to plan for their digital assets after they die. Of the respondents that have a will, 70% have not designated a digital executor. When asked why they had not done so yet, the majority answered that they didn't know they should. In regards to what they wanted to happen to social media accounts, the majority responded that they preferred that they be deleted upon their death.

See Ellen Huet, Who Will Take Care Of Your Digital Legacy After You Die? Poll Says Many People Haven't Specified, Forbes, Apr. 21, 2015.

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

April 22, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Taking Care of Your Digital Legacy

Computer 2Many Americans have yet to decide who will oversee their digital accounts after they die.  While some prefer their accounts be memorialized, more than half would like them deleted.

Several social networking capabilities now make it easier to manage someone’s online presence after death.  In February, Facebook released a “legacy contact” feature, allowing users to designate another user to post a final message, change profile pictures and accept new friend requests.  Google began offering a similar service in 2013. 

These options are steps that have given users more control over their digital life, a trend attorneys hope other companies to follow.  But instead of waiting for accounts to offer digital legacy handlers, people can name “digital executors” in their will.  Yet, in one poll taken, 70 percent of individuals had not chosen a digital executor.  Many people assume that they did not need one or that their family could access their accounts upon death.  It is important to name successors on any account to make the process easier when trying to communicate your authority to the right person. 

See Ellen Huet, Who Will Take Care of Your Digital Legacy After You Die? Poll Says Many People Haven’t Specified, Forbes, Apr. 21, 2015.

April 21, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)