February 2013      

Team Tisser Foundation (TTF) is a non-profit corporation founded by Doron M. Tisser and his wife Laurie. TTF raises money for various charitable purposes and does not focus on any one charity or charitable purpose. The goal is to raise as much money as possible to "Help Make A Difference" by "Improving Life for Others." TTF has made donations to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Challenged Athletes Foundation, as well as charities helping people affected by natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunamis. Since 2000, TTF has donated over $250,000 to over 40 different charities. Friends and clients generally donate money to TTF to support Doron's participation in triathlons and marathons. If you would like more information about TTF, please contact Doron at doron@tisserlaw.com, or visit www.teamtisser.org

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About
Doron M. Tisser

Doron M. Tisser has specialized in estate and gift planning, tax planning, trust and probate administration, charitable giving, buy-sell agreements and related areas for over 30 years. Mr. Tisser is one of less than 100 attorneys in California who has been designated as both a Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law, and as a Certified Specialist in Taxation Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. He was chosen by his peers as a Super Lawyer for 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 for Southern California, and enjoys an "a.v." rating by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is the highest possible rating and is based on ethical considerations and legal skills. Mr. Tisser has published over 65 articles and chapters in books on various estate and tax planning subjects and is a frequent speaker and lecturer at estate and tax planning seminars. Mr. Tisser competes in triathlons, including Ironman races, and raises money for charities through Team Tisser Foundation, a non-profit corporation he co-founded with his wife Laurie.

What’s Happening

Tisser Law Group is pleased to announce that Brian H. Standing, Esq. has become a Shareholder at the firm. Brian continues to practice in the areas of Estate and Tax Planning, Probate and Trust Administration.

We will be having our 4th Annual Conference on The State of Estate Planning in the coming months and will let you know as soon as we have the date. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact either Laura at laura@tisserlaw.com, or Amber at amber@tisserlaw.com.

If you would like Doron M. Tisser to speak to your group or organization about the new estate tax laws, trust administration or other estate planning subjects, please contact Laura at laura@tisserlaw.com or call Laura at (818)226-9125.

DIGITAL ASSETS AND ESTATE PLANNING

What do your Facebook account, your online bill paying accounts, your e-mail account, your house and your money have in common? They are all assets that you need to consider as part of your estate planning.

While many of us have taken the time to plan how to distribute our house, money and other tangible assets when we die, we have not spent any time thinking about how our digital assets should be handled.

What are digital assets? They are generally online accounts that require a user name and password, as well as files stored on computers, mobile phones, DVDs and similar items, and back-ups stored on third party servers (sometimes referred to as the "cloud").

The issues with digital assets are what happens to them when you die or become incapacitated and how they are to be accessed and distributed to your heirs. For purposes of this article, we will call the person who is to have access to your digital assets your "successor".

One of the biggest issues a successor has when a person dies or becomes incapacitated is locating his or her assets and accounts (other than digital assets). If the successor is unable to locate the assets (such as bank and brokerage accounts), he or she can usually gain access to those accounts either through a Will or a trust (at death) or by way of a power of attorney (at incapacitation).

With digital assets, the process of locating and accessing the information is even more difficult.

The first obstacle is simply identifying the assets or accounts. Unless the person has prepared and maintained a list of online accounts and kept it in a place where his or her successor will find it, such as with his or her other estate planning documents, the successor will have to ask family members, review computer histories and review paper statements. If the person elected not to receive any paper statements once his or her online account was established, there may be no physical record of the account for the successor. The second obstacle is accessing the accounts once the successor is aware of them. Without specific instructions left for the successor, including usernames and passwords, the successor will not be able to access the accounts. The websites themselves may have no clear policy for allowing access to a deceased person’s accounts by family members or successors. Or, even worse, they may have a policy requiring automatic closure of accounts as soon as they are notified of deaths, and files may be deleted by the company, your bills may not get paid, and the accounts will not be able to be preserved for future generations.

Here are some common situations where access to digital assets is important:

  • Family Pictures. More and more people are storing family pictures on various websites. Before online storage and digital pictures, families would take pictures and hand them down from generation to generation. Without proper planning for digital assets, there is a risk that all of the family pictures will be lost.
  • Online Bill Pay. If you do your bill paying online and your successor does not have access to those accounts, the accounts may become delinquent, resulting in penalties and interest and, in a worst case, the default on your mortgage.
  • Investment Accounts. If your investment account has a margin that needs to be paid, failure to have access to that account can cause great economic loss.
  • Identity Theft Prevention. It may also be necessary to have immediate access to your digital assets to review account activity to prevent identity theft.

With all of the uncertainty about digital assets, what is the best way to proceed at this time? In our next newsletter, we will discuss our planning recommendations for ensuring a successor’s access to, and preservation of, digital assets.

Tisser Law Group, A Professional Corporation | 5425 Farralone Ave, Suite 100 | Woodland Hills | CA | 91367

doron@tisserlaw.com – Doron M. Tisser, Esq.
brian@tisserlaw.com – Brian H. Standing, Esq.
armine@tisserlaw.com – Armine Bazikyan, Esq.
judy@tisserlaw.com – Judy Schwarz, Paralegal

erica@tisserlaw.com – Erica Opperman, Paralegal

laura@tisserlaw.com – Laura Stein, Admin. Director
amber@tisserlaw.com – Amber McBride, Practice Coordinator
heather@tisserlaw.com – Heather Lanet, Admin. Assistant
zion@tisserlaw.com – Zion Dungo, Admin. Assistant
jesus@tisserlaw.com – Jesus Esteves, Admin. Assistant  
This Newsletter is intended to provide legal information only; legal information is not legal advice and you should consult with qualified legal counsel prior to implementing any estate planning. The transmission or receipt of information to or from this Newsletter is not intended to create, and does not create or constitute, an attorney-client relationship. No portion of this Newsletter may be reproduced or used in any manner other than for the private information of the reader without the express written consent of Tisser Law Group, A Professional Corporation. The testimonials throughout this Newsletter were provided by actual clients. To maintain their privacy their names may have been abbreviated. Please note that testimonials do not warrant, guarantee or predict your particular results. Copyright Tisser Law Group, A Professional Corporation 2010. All Rights Reserved.