Digital, my ass…ets!Carol Craigie, CFP®
So, September’s focus at Fiscal Fitness Clubs is Legal and Estate Planning Management. All month, we’ve had our clients focused on getting the right documents in the right places and communicating the right message to the right family members. Just when you think you have a handle on everything, WHAM! WHAP! OOPS! And something else comes along. I just got back from a seminar by a leading attorney in digital assets, Robert Kirkland, where I learned all sorts of interesting facts and challenges we have to add to our list of things to do to avoid problems.
How is this for weird? Many of those on-line service agreements you don’t read and automatically sign, give up your rights to let your executor, power of attorney, or trustee deal with your stuff. Even if you have standard documents, you don’t have rights. You have to have SPECIAL language and in some cases have given authorization before the event or nada, no good, lost, all is given up, rats!
Before you write off those digital assets as not your problem, here are some samples of things that are worth financial or emotional value: frequent flyer miles, refunds, Amazon Prime account, cloud accounts, ability to quickly protect the deceased’s identity, so identify theft doesn’t occur, smart phones & their accounts, saved family photos, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, automatic bank drafts, bill pay accounts, ancestry files, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
So, even if you got all the rest of your documents in order, now you need to do 5 things:
- Make a list of digital assets/websites, log in names, and contact information.
- Make a separate list of passwords and common questions and answers that you can give to your Power of Attorney.
- Get an addendum to your will or trust authorizing access to digital assets.
- Complete and sign the one page authorization form (just placed in your Legal and Estate Planning folder for our club members).
- Find out from each provider what you need to do to add a person beforehand (Facebook and Google have processes in place).
We’re developing a comprehensive approach to help you stay on top of this, club members, but this is the fast notice.
Now for the fun crazy story: 4 months after her husband’s death, a widow was still getting emails and texts that had been automatically popped from her husbands’ account. She called the provider and was told she did not have the right to access his account, even though she was the executor. After explaining she could send a death certificate, the helpful customer service person said, “That would be great, but I just need to speak with him first.” She hung up and continued receiving emails and texts until the account ended, and, to make it worse, kept getting billed because she couldn’t cancel the account.
I think she should have repied “OKAY, I’ll set up the seance and channel him now!” Then in a deep voice said, “Hi, this is John. I’m dead. Talk to my wife.”
Share your new digital world/stupid customer service stories or questions on digital asset planning below.