10-25-2018 Columns

Is your “digital estate” in order? If you spend a lot of time on the internet, you’re not just shopping or being entertained, or following the news or participating in an online community. You’re probably also dealing with accounts and information that eventually can become part of your digital “estate.” And if this estate isn’t properly looked after, it can lead to confusion and conflict among your survivors, as well as an opportunity for hackers to try to get at whatever resources they can touch. If you haven’t stopped to think about it, you might be surprised at the number of assets that could become part of your digital estate. You may have financial accounts (banking, brokerage and bill-paying); virtual property accounts (air miles, “points” for hotel bookings); business accounts (eBay, Amazon, Etsy); e-mail accounts (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo); social networking accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram); online storage accounts (Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox); and application accounts (Netflix, Kindle, Apple). Given all these areas, how can you protect and preserve your digital estate? Here are a few suggestions: Create a detailed inventory of digital assets. Following the categories listed above, draw up a list of all your digital assets. Document your wishes for how you want your digital assets managed. If you don’t specify how you want your digital assets managed upon your death or incapacitation, you might be opening the door to lengthy legal battles over access to these assets. In a worst-case scenario, your heirs and beneficiaries might never get the assets you had intended for them. Name a digital executor in your last will and testament. A digital executor can accomplish a variety of tasks related to your digital estate, such as transferring online assets to your heirs; closing accounts you don’t want transferred; managing personal materials by archiving or deleting files, photographs, videos and other content you have created; and, finally, informing online communities of your passing. When choosing a digital executor, you’ll want someone you can trust, of course, but you’ll also want to make sure that person is skilled enough in technology to search your computer properly and navigate the internet and multiple websites. Not all states recognize a digital executor, so you may want to consult with a legal professional to learn about the laws governing digital estate planning in your state. Also, even if you have a digital executor, online platforms enforce their own rules about who can or can’t access a deceased person’s accounts. If you are concerned about this, you may want to contact the customer service areas from these types of providers – Google, PayPal, Facebook, etc. – to learn their policies. Review your plans. Review your digital estate plans on a regular basis, just as you do with your physical/tangible estate plans. The digital world is a fast-moving one, so you’ll need to stay current with changes. In some ways, managing a digital estate can be more challenging than dealing with a physical estate. But by following the above suggestions, you can help reduce any “cyber-angst” your loved ones may feel when it’s time to deal with the digital presence you’ve left behind. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

National Bullying Prevention Month As your State Representative, it is among my top priorities to ensure we provide our kids with safe learning environments that enhance not only their educational careers, but their confidence and mental health for a successful future. National Bullying Prevention Month is a reminder that while returning to school is an exciting time for many students, others can suffer levels of anxiety that affect their health, safety, and education as victims of bullying. Every student should feel that their school accepts and supports them and their future endeavors. There is no place for bullying in our schools and we are failing those students when they are in fear of attending school. Our schools should only be positive and happy learning environments and we all need to do our part on making this possible.

If your student is having an issue with bullying, I would encourage you and your student to report it to your local school officials. Never feel discouraged from reporting misbehavior because you not only ensure your student is in a safe environment, but the rest of their classmates are as well. If an issue persists, please contact the Michigan Department of Education for assistance. I would also encourage everyone during this election season to see past bullying tactics and conduct their own research on candidates. Not only should we stop bullying in our schools, but we need to stop bullying in all walks of life.

As always, you can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-1403, emailing KimLaSata@House.mi.gov or visiting my website at www.RepLaSata.com. It is an honor to serve you!