“What happens to your books when you die?” That’s precisely the challenging question Michael La Ronn poses to authors in a recent issue of Writers’ Digest. Without a solid estate plan, he warns, “your books will die with you”.
No one likes to think about death, LaRonn admits, but it’s painfully necessary to face our own mortality. If you forget your family, he cautions, they are likely to be overwhelmed at managing your estate. Contact an estate planning attorney, he advises. “This isn’t cheap,” LaRonn tells authors, but if you die without proper planning, it will be your family members who will need to pay for help from an attorney anyway. For authors, in addition to the concerns other clients have, they need to protect their copyrights, he reminds them.
“There’s nothing worse than dying and forgetting to share your passwords,” LaRonn stresses.
At Geyer Law, we certainly agree. “Your executor won’t be able to log in to places like your website, book retailer dashboards,” he says, but leaving careful records of all passwords – along with instructions on how you wish the information on each site to be handled is crucial for every one of our estate planning clients.
As part of the estate planning process, protection of online data needs to be a priority. In fact, at our law firm we safeguard information in four ways:
- encrypted email
- secure file sharing
- secure cloud storage
- cybersecurity insurance
On the clients’ end, planning for digital assets needs to be a part of the overall estate planning process, we emphasize. That planning also has four aspects:
- taking an inventory (and periodically updating it) of digital assets
- securing passwords
- deciding how each digital asset (photos, documents, email records) is to be handled if you become incapacitated
- leaving instructions for handling those assets once you’ve died
“What happens to your books when you die?” may not be of concern to non-authors, but at Geyer Law, we know plenty of other questions need to be asked, answered, and periodically updated:
What happens to…
……your family photos…?
……your personal and business-related emails saved on your phone/laptop….?…
……your retail accounts (Amazon, Costco, etc.,)
……your medical provider portals…?
Even for non-authors, estate plans need periodic editing!
– by Rebecca W. Geyer