Planning for Your Digital Estate – My New ABA Journal Tech Column

My August ABA Journal tech column is called “Of Sound Mind: Make Plans for Your Digital Estate.” The column provides a quick overview of and some practical pointers for the increasingly-complex issues and questions that arise in handling our digital assets after we can no longer manage them ourselves.

I’ve been fascinated by this issue for years and first wrote about it in 2010 when my friend Wendy Werner talked me into writing a primer on “digital estate planning” issues for the Law Practice Today webzine. That article was called “Estate Planning for your Digital Assets” and is one of my favorite articles that I’ve written in the last few years. I also got a very good response to the article.

As many readers know, I spent most of the first half of my legal career in the estate planning and tax field. It’s no wonder that the combination of estate planning and technology issues would interest me.

I’ve gotten the chance recently to talk a number of people who are also interested in this topic, most notably my friend Sharon Nelson and my personal estate planning lawyer and former law partner, Jackie Dimmitt.

Tom Mighell and I also did a podcast on this topic called “Planning for Your Digital Estate.”

The ABA Journal article is an attempt to distill a very complex topic into a 600 word format and offer a few practical pointers. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive treatise, but to start an important discussion. I like the way it turned out and invite you to read it.

As I ask in the article:

What happens to your online accounts, computer files and other “digital assets” when you die or become incapacitated? More importantly, what do you want to happen to them?

As usual, it comes down to people issues more so than technology issues. The best recommendation I have is point #5 – choose the right person. The traditional fiduciary choices probably are not the best choices for dealing with all of technology remains, especially all your Internet accounts. An estate planning lawyer is not reasonably knowledgeable of and comfortable with the issues of your digital estate and savvy about when and how to get help might cause your survivors undue stress and mishandle significant issues.

As I say in my conclusion: “The collision of the real world and the digital world always results in surprising consequences. Are you taking steps to ensure that the right things happen?”

Money quote:

How will your Internet friends get notice of your death, and can key accounts be accessed quickly and easily?

A very important topic that we all need to think about in more detail. Read the entire column at Of Sound Mind: Make Plans for Your Digital Estate.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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The new book Allison Shields and I have written called “LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers” is now available and also as an iBook. Also still available, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

My New ABA Journal Tech Column on Vulnerability Testing

My July ABA Journal tech column is called “Are You Vulnerable? Sometimes a Good Hack Can Help.” The column provides a gentle introduction to vulnerability testing as part of your security efforts.

The focus of the column is on simple assessment as a key building block of your security plan – how do you know what steps to take if you don’t know where you currently stand? I take a look at some do-it-yourself tools, but concentrate on the idea of hiring a third party to do some vulnerability testing, something sometimes known as “white hat hacking.”

In vulnerability testing, the third party expert, at your direction, probes your network and systems and reports on the vulnerabilities it finds. You can take that report to determine where your security might need to be shored up.

Although you might think that this is something only for large firms, it’s important to realize that many smaller firms handle lots of sensitive client data, as well as internal firm data. You should be able to find providers of vulnerability assessments who will offer flat-fee options in the few thousand dollar range.

As I say in the column: “And since security is a process rather than a destination, vulnerability assessments should be performed from time to time on a schedule that makes sense for your practice.”

Money quote:

Data breaches can be time-consuming, publicly embarrassing and costly to deal with, and they might require notifications and even law enforcement involvement.

Read the entire column at Are You Vulnerable? Sometimes a Good Hack Can Help.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

The new book Allison Shields and I have written called “LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers” is now available and also as an iBook. Also still available, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

Data Dieting

My latest tech column for the ABA Journal is called “Data Diet: Feed Your Head with a Better Info Balance.”

This column grew out of some podcasts I listened to of interviews with Clay Johnson about his new book, The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption.

Some of Johnson’s main themes won’t be a big surprise to you – decreasing the quantity of information you consume – but he also makes some great points about improving the quality of your information intake as well. As I say, “We might want to reduce our intake, but we also want to improve the ‘nutrition’ of what we do consume.”

This ABA Journal column gives an overview of Johnson’s ideas and gives a few suggestions for improving your data diet.

We’ve recently gone to a lower word count on the column, so I don’t go into a lot of detail. (Lower word counts are a mixed blessing for me – a little easier to write, but not everything will fit.) My idea is give you you some good starting points and practical ideas.

I’m also hoping the comments section will let other people contribute their ideas. I see that the initial comments mention the idea of listening to podcasts at double speed, one of my favorite suggestions.

The money quote:

Social media analyst Clay Shirky has famously said we suffer from filter failure rather than information overload. Concentrating on improving your information diet might be the best move you can make this year.

Check out the article here.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

Dealing With Disasters with Technology at Hand

My latest tech column for the ABA Journal is called “Got Disaster? Your On-Hand Technology Can See You Through.”

This column grew out of a podcast Tom Mighell and I did called Technology in a Time of Emergency, which was, in a way, our response to the tenth anniversary of 9-11 and which also grew out of some long power outages I went through over the years and the history of how blogging and social media have played roles in major natural and other disasters. I recommend the podcast episode highly – it’s one of our favorites and it has a lot of useful information and insights.

This ABA Journal column is a short version of some of the ideas in the podcast, distilled down to a few main take-aways.

The money quote:

I don’t want to downplay the importance of data backup and disaster recovery. However, in a real disaster, our concerns are more personal, more visceral and more immediate than just our data.

The article focuses on four key areas – electricity conservation, SMS, smartphones and apps, and Twitter and social media – and gives a few ideas on ways they can help you when you face the unexpected. Although I hope you never have to use any of these ideas, it’s best to be prepared.

Check out the article here.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

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Setting Your Legal Tech Priorities for 2012: BYO Upgrades Exercise

My latest tech column for the ABA Journal is called “BYO Upgrades: How to Set Your Priorities.”

My editor, Reg Davis, gets the credit for this topic. The premise was to imagine you have a good technology budget (we said $3,000) and assume that everything was possible in terms of technology and policy.

The idea is that this simple exercise would tell you a lot about what you want, what is important to you, and where your priorities are. Once you complete the exercise, you can do a little analysis. For example, if you wanted to spend $600 of your $3,000 on training, you might question the actual percentage of your tech budget you are spending on training.

I make some suggestions in the article, based on my perspective, but the key to this exercise is that you determine your own answers.

As I conclude, “Most of us will find a gap between what we are spending money on and what we think we want to spend on. Closing that gap is a great technology goal for 2012.”

I enjoyed writing this column and hope that you enjoy it and find it helpful. Check out the article here.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools

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