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estate planning

What happens to my Facebook page when I die?

By now, you’ve probably seen someone’s Facebook page change to memorial status when they pass away.  Facebook even lets you appoint a “Legacy contact” to manage your memorialized account.  Or, you can choose to delete your account completely once you die.

This Online Tool handles your Facebook account, but what about everything else?  Snapchat? Google Hangouts? Amazon? The online electric bill?  What happens to your email when you die? If you die, can someone else sign on to your account and pay your bills? Or turn off an automatic payment?

Ohio has a law to help answer these questions and let you plan for your Digital Assets if you die or become disabled.   In 2017, Ohio legislators passed the Digital Assets Act which gives you the tools to include online information in your estate planning.

If I am incapacitated…

 First, the newest Statutory Power of Attorney (a POA) form includes “Digital Assets” and “the content of electronic communication sent or received by me.”   In a POA, you select an agent to handle your affairs if you are alive but not able to make decisions. 

  The Digital Assets option gives them access to everything EXCEPT the content of your emails.  So, your agent can pay your electric bill or use your email address book to send health updates to some or all of your contacts.  So, if you want your agent to actually read your emails, you select the “content of electronic communication” option.  State lawmakers felt email content was highly personal and need to be chosen separately.

If I pass away…

However, a POA expires when you die.  So, to ensure someone has access to your Digital Assets and/or “the content of electronic communication” you should specify this in your will.  This language can be as general or as specific as you want.  It can be for all of your accounts or for a specific account, such as LinkedIn.

In conclusion, you can make sure someone has all your passwords, but accounts and passwords change.  Using “online tools” such as the Facebook options helps manage some accounts.   However, adding digital assets to your estate planning can ensure that all of your accounts are covered.  Your POA agent or the executor of your estate will be able to open and use your accounts to do what you wish or what’s best for your estate.

We can help

So, contact us today to talk about your Digital Assets and all your estate planning needs.

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What if…? Ohio pet trusts provide care for animals when their owners can’t.

Have you ever been concerned about what would happen to your pet if something unexpected happened to you? Ohio law now allows pet owners to create a trust to provide for the care and maintenance of pets if the owner can no longer care for them, be it due to death or other incapacitation. This type of trust is protected by statute and is legally enforceable (Ohio Revised Code Section 5804.08). Commonly known as “pet trusts,” these trusts can cover any type of pet (including tarantulas). A pet trust is a legal vessel that describes your wishes regarding the care of your pet and distributes provided funds to enable that care. A pet trust can be created during the owner’s lifetime or created at the time of the owner’s death via a will.

Some important items pet owners should consider when thinking about forming a pet trust:
1. Who will you name as the trustee? What about an alternate? The trustee is the person charged with following the directions set forth in your trust. The trustee may be paid a reasonable fee, or may serve without compensation.

2. Who will be the caretaker for your pets? The caretaker may be the same as or different from the trustee. If the caretaker and trustee are different people, the trustee could have the authority to remove the pets from one caretaker and appoint a new caretaker if the trustee is dissatisfied with their care.

3. Specific instructions you might have for the care of your pets. You may wish to specify whether or not the caretaker should be permitted to allow animals to breed, for instance, or whether they should be kept in a private residence, as opposed to a rescue facility. Typically, a pet owner will give the caretaker wide discretion to provide care in a manner that the caretaker sees fit, in his/her best judgment.

4. The amount you are willing to pay out of the trust to the caretaker for providing care for your animals.

5. The person or organization who will receive any remaining trust assets upon termination of your trust (which should be at the death of the last animal covered by the trust).

Once these items are resolved, you will need to decide what assets (monies, etc.) you are willing to use to fund the trust.

Pet trusts allow you to plan for your pet’s future and ensure that your pet will be cared for in the way you desire. Pet owners can finally create and control the answer to the troubling “what if…?” question and have peace of mind about the care of their pets.

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