What is the Texas Medical Privacy Act?

What is the Texas Medical Privacy Act?

What is the Texas Medical Privacy Act?

The Texas Medical Privacy Act helps protect your medical privacy. The dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas can help you address your estate planning concerns with this ironclad privacy.

The Texas Medical Privacy Act is a legal act implemented by the governor of Texas in 2001 to ensure that the state remains in compliance with federal standards related to patient privacy (as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 –HIPAA). HIPAA was the first federal legislation to address uniform privacy standards concerning patient information, and it is an important legal matter that affects all of us in significant ways. Still, it also has important implications for estate planning. If you have questions or concerns regarding your medical privacy and how it intertwines with your estate planning, the accomplished estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas (512-505-2753) have the skill and legal insight you need to ensure your legal rights remain protected.

Your Healthcare Directive

For your estate plans to be comprehensive and complete, you need to address the matter of a healthcare directive, which only kicks in if you cannot make healthcare decisions on your behalf. If you have strong opinions regarding how you would like your health care to be addressed in the event you are incapacitated, the only way to effectively and definitively address them is by implementing a medical power of attorney (medical POA) that designates an agent who will make your healthcare decisions on your behalf if the need should arise.

Make Decisions on Your Behalf

For the agent assigned in your Medical POA to make important decisions about your health care in your stead, they will need to have all the relevant information about your health available to them. The Texas Medical Privacy Act, which is the state’s version of HIPAA designed to protect your privacy, can become a sticking point. To bypass this privacy protection, you will need –in essence –a waiver that provides your doctors with the authorization to disclose your private healthcare information to the named party or parties.

Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information

In the State of Texas, the tool necessary to grant the agent of your medical POA the ability to obtain the information that they need to make serious medical decisions on your behalf is the Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information form. This form requires all of the following:

  • Your contact information
  • Whom you are granting permission to disclose your private healthcare information
  • Whom you are designating as the recipient of your private healthcare information
  • The kind of healthcare information you are allowing to be disclosed (there are a series of boxes you can check for inclusion –such as Physician’s Orders, Progress notes, Pathology Reports –as you deem appropriate).

There are also special categories of information that you will need to initial if you want them to be included in the private information that you are requesting be disclosed, including:

  • Your mental health records (excluding any notes from your psychotherapist)
  • Your drug, alcohol, and/or substance abuse records
  • Any HIV/AIDS test results or treatment
  • Genetic information, including genetic test results

Why You Need the HIPAA Authorization

There are three primary concerns to keep in mind when it comes to your estate plan and medical privacy.

The Power to Act

Even though you may have carefully granted the agent of your medical POA, living will, or another kind of medical directive the decision-making power to make important healthcare decisions on your behalf, the medical professional in charge of your care will probably not be comfortable providing them your private medical details without a legally executed HIPAA authorization. The Texas Medical Privacy Act is in place to protect your medical privacy. This leaves you responsible for providing explicit instructions regarding when you want this protection to be overridden (the doctor in question is not likely to make this decision for you).

Durability Clause

To ensure that your HIPAA authorization works for you, you will also need a durability clause in place. Your durability clause ensures that the powers granted in your medical POA will extend beyond any incapacitation, which means that if you become incapacitated, the medical POA will remain in effect.

Your Trust Can Also Be Affected

Your trust can also be affected by HIPAA in a way that you may not have considered. Your trust assigns a trustee who manages it according to your exacting specifications. Still, if something were to prevent your trustee from fulfilling their duty when the time comes (such as incapacitation), you might be out of options if there is no path forward toward replacing them. Again, the only way forward here is with a HIPAA authorization that allows your named replacement to obtain the medical information necessary to declare the original trustee incapacitated(according to the trust’s terms) and to step in on their behalf.

Consult with an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney

Your estate plans are important to you, your family, and your legacy, and while there is a great deal of consideration involved, taking the time to get it right can give you the boost of confidence you are looking for when it comes to taking care of your family over time. The Texas Medical Privacy Act makes addressing matters related to your advance healthcare directive more complicated. The focused estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas have a wealth of experience effectively and efficiently addressing complicated HIPAA-related concerns. We are well prepared to unleash these skills in defense of your rights and in support of your intentions. We are on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 for more information today.

How Does Guardianship Work in Texas?

How Does Guardianship Work in Texas?

How Does Guardianship Work in Texas?

How does guardianship work in Texas? This question is an important matter that you can discuss with the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC as soon as a potential need arises. If the question of how guardianship work in Texas? is on your mind, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of your next steps. When an adult can no longer make appropriate decisions for himself or herself, guardianship is an important legal mechanism available to address the matter.

The dedicated Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC (512-505-2753) recognize just how serious questions related to guardianship are. We are committed to helping you find the answers that work for you your loved one who may need guardianship.

What is Guardianship?

Texas Health and Human Services indicate that guardianship refers to a relationship established by the law between a person who needs help (ward) and a person or entity named as their guardian (the person or entity assigned to help the ward). Sometimes, due to their age, disease, injury, or anything else, a person is left in the difficult position of needing help with either all or part of the day-to-day affairs and activities. One way to obtain the help they need is through guardianship.

Common Reasons for Obtaining Guardianship

Consider some of the most common reasons for obtaining guardianship:

  • Sometimes, an individual –due to a birth injury or illness or a permanent disability –requires a guardian throughout adulthood.
  • Sometimes, an individual requires a guardian after experiencing a traumatic event, such as a brain injury.
  • Sometimes, individuals encounter the need for a guardian as they age and/or experiences considerable health concerns that affect their ability to care for themselves.

Guardianship is an important legal tool that helps to ensure that individuals who are incapable of caring for themselves adequately can continue living their fullest lives –while ensuring that their best interests are addressed.

Seeking Guardianship in Texas

In the State of Texas, the process of appointing a guardian involves the following steps:

  • Filing the appropriate application with the appropriate court
  • Having a guardianship hearing before a judge
  • If the judge deems it necessary, appointing a guardian

Guardianship strips the ward of considerable rights, which is why it is only implemented when every other viable option has been exhausted, including:

  • Finding someone who can help the person in need pay their bills, manage their general finances, and/or help them attend to the matters of daily living generally
  • Finding someone who can help the person in need make important life decisions, including decisions related to health care
  • Helping the person in need obtain assistance through community services, such as Medicaid programs and beyond

If you have concerns related to the question –How does guardianship work in Texas? –the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help.

Important Points to Consider

Appointing someone with a guardian is a serious legal move that is usually permanent (unless a significant change moves the judge to lift the requirement). As such, guardianship is typically the last choice (if additional options are available), and in specific situations, there are, sometimes, better choices.

Social Security

The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows benefits to flow through a recipient’s representative payee (regardless of whether or not they have a guardian).

Public Benefits

Recipients of public benefits, such as Medicaid and/or food stamps, can receive them through authorized representatives and do not require guardians.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) can act on behalf of (and can make important decisions for) an incapacitated person, but the POA designation must be created before its need, which is why it is called an advance care directive.

Emergencies

In emergencies, like when someone is in the hospital and unable to communicate their wishes regarding their treatment, a family member can step in on their behalf.

The Basic Types of Guardianship

There are four basic types of guardianship, and they include:

  • Full or limited guardianship of a person–Some wards only need assistance in specific areas, while others require more considerable oversight.
  • Full or limited guardianship of a person’s estate–Guardianships can also address a person’s estate and how it is handled.
  • Guardianship of a person and their estate–This is a more comprehensive form of guardianship that addresses both the ward’s person and their estate.
  • Temporary (or emergency) guardianship –Temporary guardianship is sometimes awarded in extraordinary circumstances that amount to emergencies in which guardianship becomes an issue.

Who Is Appointed Guardian?

For adults in need of guardianship, guardians are appointed by the court in the following order (as applicable):

  • The person who is designated to take over guardianship (in the event necessary) in the ward’s advance directive
  • The ward’s spouse
  • A non-relative of the ward that the court deems appropriate to satisfy the role of guardian

Seek the Professional Legal Guidance of an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney

Matters related to guardianship are very serious, and if you have concerns about how guardianship works in Texas, seeking professional legal counsel is well advised. Less intrusive options should always be considered before guardianship is pursued, but when necessary, guardianship is an important legal tool that can help you address your loved one’s needs. The experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC understand your concerns and are committed to helping you find the best path forward for you –given your unique circumstances. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

 

What Does Texas Require for An Advance Directive or Living Will?

What Does Texas Require for An Advance Directive or Living Will?

What Does Texas Require for An Advance Directive or Living Will?

Having a well-considered Texas advance healthcare directive in place is an important element of your estate plan. The experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law have the compassion, drive, and legal insight to help.

People are often confused by estate planning tools, such as the Texas Health and Human Services explanation of advance directives (or living wills). Still, the idea behind them is to direct –in advance –how critical healthcare decisions will be made if you are unable to make them on your own. Having a Texas advance healthcare directive in place can play an essential role in your estate planning efforts –providing you with the peace of mind that comes from thoroughly addressing your future potential healthcare needs. The understanding and experienced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law in Texas (512-505-2753) are well-positioned to help.

The Four Basic Categories of Advance Directives in Texas

In the State of Texas, there are four basic categories of advance healthcare directives, and your estate plan can incorporate as many or as few as you require, depending upon your unique needs and circumstances.

Medical Power of Attorney

With a medical power of attorney (medical POA), you can assign an agent who will make critical medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so for yourself, such as if you become incapacitated.

Declaration of Medical Health Treatment

With a declaration of medical health treatment, you specify that a court must determine whether or not you are incapacitated and, thus, when this directive goes into effect. With this declaration of medical health treatment, you can decline consent to the use of psychoactive drugs and/or to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This declaration expires after three years (unless you are incapacitated at that time) and must be reimplemented if you require it to continue.

Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (or Living Will)

With a directive to physicians and family or surrogates, also called a living will, you can specify your preferences regarding the provision, withdrawal, and/or withholding of specific kinds of medical care if you face a terminal or irreversible medical condition.

Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order

An out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate order allows you the ability to refuse specific life-sustaining treatments in non-hospital settings in which medical professionals are called in to assist with the provision of health care, such as in outpatient facilities and emergency rooms.

Helping to Ensure that Your Wishes Are Implemented

The primary components of ensuring that your Texas advance healthcare directive is implemented according to your wishes include:

  • Understanding your options as they relate to advance directives
  • Implementing the suitable options for you
  • Sharing your wishes with your loved ones and healthcare providers

The dedicated Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law can help you carefully address your healthcare directive needs following your preferences.

Setting up Your Advance Healthcare Directive

To fully address your healthcare directive needs, you will likely require a living will and a medical POA, often called a healthcare proxy. Both require that two witnesses sign off on them, and one of these witnesses cannot be any of the following:

  • The person whom you have appointed as the document’s agent
  • Someone related to you by marriage or blood
  • Someone who is a beneficiary of any part of your estate
  • Your attending physician (or an employee of your attending physician)
  • Anyone who has a claim against any part of your estate
  • Anyone who is involved in providing you with direct care

Advance Directives: Your Legal Rights

Texas advance healthcare directives are put in place to help ensure that all of the following are true (for all competent adults who are at least 18 years old):

  • That you have the right to make your own healthcare decisions following your values, beliefs, and preferences
  • That you have the right to choose what medical care to accept, reject, or discontinue (per your preferences)
  • That you have the right to name someone to step in and make important healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so

Regardless of what your wishes are based upon (your religious beliefs, values, basic preferences, or anything else), it is your right to have them respected. Still, you will need to take the appropriate legal steps to make sure that they are.

Choosing an Agent for Your Medical POA

Choosing the right agent –or the person who will ensure that your stated healthcare preferences are carried out –is a critical component of your Texas advanced healthcare directive, and it is essential to give the matter considerable forethought. While the decision to name your spouse may seem like an obvious choice, you need to carefully consider whether or not having to make life-or-death decisions that comport with your wishes –but that may not align with the choices they would make (given the option) –it may be too much to ask. Ultimately, you want to choose someone whom you trust implicitly and who will be comfortable making difficult healthcare decisions on your behalf if it becomes necessary.

Consult with a Dedicated Texas Estate Planning Attorney Today

Your Texas advance healthcare directive is a critical element of your estate plan, and the trusted estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law in Texas have a wealth of impressive experience helping clients like you address these matters head-on –with confidence and purpose that comes from having professional legal guidance. Healthcare decisions are a very personal matter that you should not lose the power to direct due to a lack of foresight. Our compassionate legal team understands how overwhelming issues related to estate planning can be, and we are here to help you through every step of the journey. To learn more about what we can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

How to Obtain Letters Testamentary

How to Obtain Letters Testamentary

How to Obtain Letters Testamentary

If you are designated as the executor or administrator of someone’s estate, the deceased person trusts you with the responsibility to execute their final wishes related to their estate. Suppose this is your first experience serving as an estate executor or administrator. In that case, there can be a reasonably steep learning curve that includes various important and legally exacting steps that you will need to perform.

One of the questions you will likely find yourself asking is how to obtain letters testamentary, which is a critical first step in the process. As you proceed toward fulfilling the significant responsibility entrusted to you, you should consider visiting with a professional with expertise in these areas. The experienced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas are well prepared to help effectively and efficiently guide you forward and help you understand all of your legal rights and options. Consider giving our legal team a call at 512-505-2753 today.

What Are Letters Testamentary?

As the executor or administrator of someone else’s estate, you will be responsible for seeing the person’s financial matters moving forward. However, before you can get started, you need letters testamentary, which is a document that the probate court issues providing proof that you are the executor or administrator of an estate and have the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate in question. Letters testamentary are a court order, and it is elemental to initiating the process of executing an estate. Better understanding the basics of letters testamentary and being the executor or administrator of an estate can help you move forward on this journey with increased confidence and focus.

What is the Difference Between Letters Testamentary vs. Letter of Administration?

While the terms “letters testamentary” and “letter of administration” are often used interchangeably, there is an important distinction. If the person whose estate you will be executing died without a Last Will and Testament (will), it means that they died intestate. In this situation, an heir must apply for a letter of administration (and declaration of heirship) to execute their relative’s estate. On the other hand, letters testamentary are only issued when the decedent has a will in place. The letters testamentary you obtain identifies you as the executor of that will.

What Can I Do With Letters Testamentary?

The letters testamentary you obtain demonstrates that you have the legal right to act as the executor or administrator of the estate in questions and grants you permission to perform all the following tasks on behalf of the estate:

  • Pay the estate’s pending debts
  • Take inventory of the estate’s assets
  • Distribute assets following the decedent’s wishes (as outlined in their will)
  • Attend to real estate transactions related to the estate
  • Engage in banking endeavors related to the estate
  • Focus on other financial matters related to the estate

Your primary function as the executor or administrator of an estate is financial, which makes having professional legal counsel in your corner essential to consider.

How Do I Get Letters Testamentary?

A Texas probate court will issue you letters testamentary, but to begin the process, you will need to provide the court with basic documentation that includes:

  • A certified copy of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament
  • The decedent’s certified death certificate
  • Identifying information about yourself that demonstrates you are the person named as the executor of the will

This documentation will be filed with the probate court in addition to the requisite letters testamentary forms in the application process. Once you have filed the necessary documentation and forms, the probate court will schedule your hearing date. Ultimately, you will be issued a certified copy of your letters testamentary, and because every financial institution you deal with moving forward is likely to request its own copy, obtaining multiples is well advised.

It is important to note that the process of obtaining letters testamentary can be complicated, and any missteps can set you back considerably. You are not, however, alone in this process. The experienced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas are on your side, ready to help, and are well acquainted with this important process.

Why Are Letters Testamentary Important?

Before obtaining your letters testamentary, you are powerless to move forward on behalf of the decedent’s estate. Once you receive the letters testamentary, you have the legal right to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate; this means that you will be guiding their legacy into the future, which is a meaningful and essential responsibility.

With your letters testamentary, you have the authority required to do everything necessary to carry out the decedent’s final wishes related to their estate, including closing out the estate and distributing all assets within to their heirs and beneficiaries (per their wishes). These are the final acts of the person whose estate you are executing, and your contributions in this effort are both powerful and essential.

Proceed with Confidence by Consulting with an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you are the executor or administrator of an estate—whether it is for a loved one or for someone who trusted you enough to bestow you with this weighty responsibility—you very likely have questions about how best to proceed, including about how to obtain letters testamentary. The compassionate and trusted estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas are here to help you every step of the way. For more information, please do not hesitate to reach out by contacting or calling us at 512-505-2753 today.

Creditors and Estate Planning

Creditors and Estate Planning

Creditors and Estate Planning

Your estate plan is your legacy that you extend to the people you care about, and as such, it addresses your wealth and assets (whether these are modest, quite grand, or somewhere in between). Additionally, however, your outstanding debts will flow through your estate, and you want to ensure that yours are addressed in a manner that benefits your estate rather than detracts from it. When it comes to creditors and estate planning, it is important to consider them in tandem. The Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC have considerable experience addressing matters related to creditors and estate planning. Consider visiting with our legal team today at 512-505-2753 to help answer your questions and learn more about your options.

Satisfying Creditors’ Claims

Creditors continue seeking payment until they are notified of the death of a debtor. Once informed, these creditors make a claim on the debtor’s estate in order to settle the debt in question. Once a creditor makes a claim against an estate, it is either paid or denied by the estate, but if it is denied, the creditor can pursue the matter in court. The person you assign to administer your estate (your executor) will be responsible for addressing these creditors’ claims, and all such debts typically must be satisfied before any assets can be distributed. Further, certain debts, such as taxes and those generated by the decedent’s funeral take precedence over other debts.

Asset Protection

The matter of creditors and estate planning is an important topic that should be addressed early in your estate planning journey. The fact is that creditors and the legal judgments they often propel can wear away at the legacy you have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into, which is why you should not neglect asset protection.

While certain debts must, of course, be covered through your estate, there are other –possibly unforeseen –situations that can deplete your estate if you do not apply the appropriate due diligence early on. The fact is that the assets you leave your heirs become subject to their debts upon transfer of ownership (this includes difficult situations, such as if any of your heirs’ soon-to-be exes are seeking an equitable distribution of marital property).

Steps to Take to Protect Your Estate from Creditors

There are, however, steps you can take to better protect your estate, including the following:

  • An irrevocable trust is a mechanism for transferring assets to a distinct legal entity that is not vulnerable to creditors or legal judgments and that can also allow you to bypass probate.
  • Once your life insurance proceeds are distributed to your beneficiaries, the funds are no longer invulnerable to creditors. By funneling the funds into an irrevocable life insurance trust, you can help protect them from creditors and any soon-to-be exes alike.
  • An IRA trust allows you to funnel your IRAs to your beneficiaries via a separate trust, which can help protect the funds from your creditors and theirs. Gone are the days that IRA inheritances are protected from creditors.
  • A payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designation allows you to transfer bank accounts directly to your heirs upon death, which means the accounts bypass probate and are not subject to any debts sought by your creditors.

All of these options provide different kinds of safeguards, but it is important to get them right, which makes it important to consider working with a dedicated estate planning attorney at Ibekwe Law, PLLC who will help you strike the right balance regarding creditors and estate planning.

Irrevocable Trusts

An irrevocable trust is such an important tool when it comes to creditors and estate planning that it deserves closer attention. An irrevocable trust amounts to a legal arrangement in which the creator –who is often referred to as the grantor and who is, in this situation, you –transfers ownership of the assets therein into the administrative care of someone else (the trustee) who is charged with administering the assets (in accordance with your exacting plan) for the benefit of your beneficiaries.

Once you establish your irrevocable trust –and this is where the irrevocable part comes in– you no longer legally own the assets therein and cannot alter how they will be distributed when the time comes. In other words, it is complicated, and it is also critical that you move forward with purpose. The asset protection provided by an irrevocable trust can be immense.

An important caveat here is that the court can dismantle your transfer to trust if it determines that your intention was to defraud creditors in the first place. Such acts are considered legally fraudulent and can lead to serious financial consequences. Ultimately, your asset protection efforts should be triggered by your estate planning endeavors –and they should proceed in tandem.

Estate Planning and Considerable Debt

If you have considerable debt, it is important to address the matter sooner rather than later. There are things that you can do now to help you mitigate this financial dilemma, and the practiced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help you with these legal issues. Consider the following possibilities:

  • Giving assets to your heirs while you are alive might be a viable option for avoiding the loss of these assets during probate (when they will be offset by your outstanding debts). There are, however, tax implications to consider.
  • You may also consider funding a business enterprise with your assets (in an effort to keep them out of probate).
  • Working to pay down your debts, including considering diverse payment-plan options, during your lifetime can also be beneficial.

Your issues as they relate to creditors and estate planning are unique to you and your situation, and they should be addressed on an individual basis.

Look to an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney for the Legal Help You Need

If you have concerns related to creditors and estate planning, the accomplished estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas are committed to helping you find the right estate planning tools for you –while we help you affect a solid estate plan that bolsters your peace of mind and helps preserve your legacy for your loved ones. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

What Is A Digital Executor?

What Is A Digital Executor?

What Is A Digital Executor?

If you find yourself wondering what is a digital executor, it is probably a good time to consult with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney.

It is 2021, and when we die, we are very likely to leave behind a number of unattended digital happenings that can range from social media accounts to subscriptions and much more. Ultimately, these online entities may contain financial and other kinds of private information, and some of them are likely to involve an ongoing subscription rate. In other words, it is a good idea to deal with these loose ends when executing one’s estate, but it can be very difficult to do without assigning a digital executor. Learn more about what a digital executor is by contacting an experienced estate planning attorney at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas a call at 512-505-2753 today.

Your Digital Executor

You obviously want your digital executor to know his or her way around the internet and to be capable of executing a number of important –and sometimes sensitive – tasks, which means he or she will need access to your suite of online information. Because the laws and online protocols for allowing digital executors access to decedent’s online accounts and subscriptions are evolving, it is important to provide your digital executive with a workaround in the form of a complete list of your online dealings –along with your usernames and passwords. This is a good way to help ensure that the execution of your digital estate proceeds smoothly rather than in fits and starts.

Your Digital Assets

Your digital estate likely consists of wide-ranging assets that can include all of the following:

  • Your email accounts
  • Your social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter
  • Your digital photo, video, and music archives
  • Your online banking accounts and other online financial tools
  • Your frequent flyer programs and other online reward accounts
  • Your online bill paying
  • Cryptocurrency accounts
  • Any blogs or websites you host
  • Your online dating accounts, which often have subscription charges associated

These represent the basics, but you may also have many others. Do not wait until it is too late to ask the question –what is a digital executor?– start thinking about organizing your digital assets today.

Addressing the Matter of a Digital Executor in Your Last Will and Testament

As mentioned, the laws regarding digital access are new –and somewhat wobbly at the moment– which means that addressing the matter of a digital executor in your Last Will and Testament (will) may or may not get the job done. Supplying the person you would like to take on this task with the exact information he or she needs can help you bypass this particular dilemma, but what if you would prefer that no one is allowed access to some or all of your private online accounts in the event you die before handling the matter? Many states are moving closer to allowing executors access to this private information –in a sort of blanket approach. If you seek greater privacy protections than this, it is a very good idea to discuss your concerns with one of the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas.

Leaving Specific Instructions

If you have specific requirements regarding your digital assets –or simply want them to be properly dispensed with when the time comes– the best thing you can do is to leave the person you have asked to be your digital executor with specific instructions that outline your requests. If you do have private information that you would like deleted sight unseen, include this request in your detailed list of instructions. It is important to point out, however, that you should choose your digital executor with care –making sure that you trust him or her to follow your instructions carefully. The fact is that some people simply cannot resist the allure of a secret (no matter how loyal and reliable they otherwise are).

Digital Accounts that Also Have a Brick-and-Mortar Component

Some accounts –even if you interact with them solely online– also have a non-digital component. Banks and insurance companies are a good example. While you may not have been inside a branch of your bank in a decade and may have purchased your insurance policy online –if it has a brick-and-mortar presence– the traditional executor of your estate will only be able to interact with these accounts and shut them down through the actual entity. In other words, he or she will not be granted online access. While your digital executor might be able to close the accounts, this is typically a job left to an estate’s traditional executor. Further, with privacy requirements skyrocketing for online activities –as witnessed by the identification codes that must be increasingly texted to our phones– there is no guarantee that your digital executor –armed with your usernames and passwords– will be able to accomplish the task.

By Way of Example

To better understand the importance of having a digital executor, let’s consider an example. Most of us have Facebook profiles and accounts. If you die with thousands of friends and a thriving account with many posts and pictures, what happens next? Some people like to keep these accounts active –allowing friends and loved ones to leave moving tributes in the account holder’s honor. There is, however, also a darker side to this. For one, Facebook will continue to process your account through its matching algorithms and will continue to recommend that people friend you post-mortem. Further, if no one has your Facebook login information, it could be a moot point. Your loved ones can contact Facebook, but the jury is still out on what Facebook is going to do about it.

Now Is a Good Time to Consult with an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney

Tackling the question of what is a digital executor is an important task, and the trusted estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help. Your digital assets are unique to you, and your digital-executor needs are similarly unique. Allow us to help you address your digital estate planning needs with confidence –balancing streamlined access with your privacy concerns. To learn more about how we can help you, please do not wait to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.