Posts tagged: Digital Estates

Dec 04 2013

What We Learned from the Adobe Password Breach

It’s now been pretty-well dissected that Adobe’s security breach has resulted in some 50 million accounts being exposed. A list of the top fifty passwords by use has been posted by security experts as well. (You can also attempt to complete crosswords based upon the 1,000 most common passwords). The fallout is proving to be massive, and the results of the breach will likely continue to be felt for some time.

To date, some other companies (such as Facebook) have required users who may be affected to change their passwords, in order to minimize the damage and expose users’ other accounts. It is still unclear how many other accounts the hackers were able to access but there is a high risk. Because people use the same password for many sites, getting access to one sites’s passwords means that you will be able to get access to multiple sites for that person.

If you were affected, then we recommend changing your password for any site that shared your Adobe password. However, it is important that you make a note of your password changes somewhere as well. As we have said before, if you don’t leave your passwords somewhere, then it will make it harder for people who are taking care of your affairs. Saving your passwords is actually a relatively easy task.

The first way is to simply write all of your passwords down on a piece of paper. As part of our estate planning package, we provide clients with a Document Location and Information Packet; one of the pages of this packet is a page that can be photocopied as many times as is necessary and simply lists account information (site, username, password). For some sites, such as banking sites, you should also list your security questions – if the bank does not recognize the computer or the IP address that is attempting to log in, then it will ask for this information.

Another way is to use password software. KeePass and PasswordSafe are two of the biggest ones. These programs let you keep all of your passwords on your computer (or in the cloud, depending on whether you pay for the service, or the options enabled), or on your phone, and secured by a master password. The programs will also generate theoretically secure passwords as well. These programs will also run off of a flash drive.

You should be careful about where you use your passwords. If you aren’t sure that you can trust the site, then do not use a common password for it. Some security experts recommend using base passwords but modifying the end (so if your base password is “Timmy1″ then for LinkedIn it might be “Timmy1In” or for e-mail it might be “Timmy1Ma”) but that system has risks as well. For an interesting perspective on better passwords, this XKCD comic is worth a read.

Jul 02 2013

Article on Digital Estate Planning

In the June Issue of the Suffolk Lawyer, an article that I wrote on digital assets was published. The article dealt with the fate of digital assets, including ITunes libraries, ebooks, and email. A link to the article is below.

The article, written in April, covers some approaches to handling these assets. However, after it was written, but before it was published, there were several developments worth noting.  A bill was introduced in the New York State Senate and Assembly to grant control of digital assets to fiduciaries (agents under a Power of Attorney, or executors under a Last Will and Testament). The bill was introduced late in the session and never got out of committee. Hopefully it will be taken up again.

The second development was a loss in court for Yahoo. Yahoo takes the position that when you open an account with them, it belongs to Yahoo, and you have a right to use it. They state that upon your death, they have the right to delete your entire e-mail inbox. Because so much is done via e-mail, this is a problem. In Massachusetts, the Terms of Service were challenged; in particular, the choice of law and venue provision – Yahoo stated that all cases against it must be filed in California. The court found that, because this was not agreed to by the users (in fact, it was not even communicated to the users of the service, it was a change made without notice) it was unenforceable and the Massachusetts Probate Court had jurisdiction over the matter. Furthermore, because of the wording of the Terms of Service, the court found that the co-Executors of the estate were not bound by it.

While this case is not binding in any state other than Massachusetts, it is important to keep in mind. Some service providers will fight turning your information over after you are gone. Some service providers will resist turning it over to your next of kin, or to fiduciaries of your estate. It is important that you discuss your digital accounts and assets with your estate planning attorney – in order to ensure that you have language that will help your fiduciaries take control over these assets if need be.

Justin SCBA June Article

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