How can funeral directors help families in preparing for their digital death

This was a session at Digital Death Day May 20th, 2010, Mountain View California.

Convened by Ryan Thogmartin from Connecting Directors

How can funeral directors help families in preparing for their digital death?
Digital death has not been discussed in the industry at all to date.

Funeral directors need to be better understand and be taught about digital death, at least a resource point for this information.

  • how can funeral directors be a facilitator for digital death information.
  • could companies like legacy locker be instrumental in working w/funeral directors, as a means for funeral directors
  • how do we pull together all of the players and all of the resources for funeral directors to be able to make recommendations.

– funeral homes s/b an integral part of “getting one’s affairs in order”

– one’s estate is larger than just digital assets… digital assets are only a part of this larger set of tasks.

– funeral directors need to be aware of all of these services and resources.

– estate planners and funeral directors could each be a center for resources.

– financial planners and CPAs are points of contact for estate planners because they have more points of contact.

– the person who initiates the client contact, should lead the resource sharing, but where people don’t have financial planners, CPAs or estate planners, the funeral director s/b the “quarterback” for these services.

– hospice industry might also be a place for some of this to take place, but today they’re not thinking about digital issues at all.

– hospices may not have a choice to deal w/these issues since over the next 10 yrs every one dying will have to deal w/digital death issues.

– the “digital” side of this is almost irrelevant because these issues extend well beyond digital assets, but all assets.

– 75% of people haven’t create a will or their power of attorney.

– 92% of peeps on Facebook know what a power of attorney is.

– 80% of peeps will die a lingering death (ie. Alzheimer’s).

– Estate Planners and funeral directors make a good team where estate planners can be educational arm for the family.

– pre-paid funeral market in Canada is $3B. 10-20% plans never pay.

– in the U.S., Medicaid allows pre-payment of funeral arrangements. Because of this, funeral directors can be a facilitators for these relationships right away.

– what *is* a digital asset? Many of the online services provide licenses for use, not necessarily ownership.

– in some cases online services (ie. email) will send next of kin the data (messages) but will not let the family have access to the email account per se.

– Grave Robbers book on Amazon, talks about ISP policies.

– unclaimed asset issues and honoring people’s death desires can be better addressed through the electronic services being discussed.

– how do we educate the various constituencies about these issues.

– was started for the purpose of disseminating information about the different types of information.

– DigitalDeathDay can serve as a clearing house and collaboration around being an information disseminator to the different constituent associations.

– Tying in DDD to the end of IIW could be the model for further discussion by tying it in to the back end of other associations.

– Government involvement is important and we should consider how we help to shape the evolving ecosystem and policy thicket.

– PR around these issues could help get get attention to this issue.

– Any service that is capturing user information should have a death policy to dictate what happens to people’s information after they die.

– Is it a “joint asset”… does it have survivorship?

– Digital assets could be designated as “title assets”.

– A “title property” designation means that an asset can be stipulated as having title which can then state who can have access to them after death.

– The issues may require that we focus on the underlying policy/legal issues.

– Frequent Flier Miles needs to be in a will for most companies to effect a transfer.

– Digital Death is a subset of the greater death industry, but the area that needs to be addressed better.

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