Internet Safety and Estate Planning

Internet Safety Tips with Alex von Duering

One of the biggest methods of infection or compromised accounts is from email attacks. If you have a weak password on your email account or lacking other security mechanisms, it is simply a matter of time before your account is compromised. Long gone are the days of a hacker sitting in a basement trying to get into your account for fun. It is big business now with lots of money to be made in the world of cybercrime. Email accounts are the root form of identity on the internet, and losing your email account is akin to having your identity stolen in terms of the damage that can be wrought.

During the season of holiday shopping, be aware of fictitious emails claiming to be from FedEx, USPS, UPS or another carrier with a link to your tracking information for your package. They will trick you into sharing your login information for your email or deliver a virus or ransomware payload to your computer. If struck by ransomware, without having an offline backup or offsite backup, you will be at the attacker’s mercy.  

To secure your email account, enable some second factor of authentication. Enabling SMS notifications for account access should be the bare minimum setup to protect your accounts, and almost all major institutions and vendors make it available.  Check below for additional Two Factor resources:

The final security advice recommended is to not use the same password across multiple services, even if the password is long and complex. The rationale is if one service is compromised due to their lax security and your password is harvested they, for the most part, have everything they need to compromise your other accounts. Remember, in a lot of cases, your email address is your username/identity and if you use a repeated password without two-factor authentication, your data will be available for the taking!

Estate Planning with Rena McDonald

Do I need to worry about estate planning?

The short answer is yes. If you care about what will happen to the assets you’ve worked your entire life to procure, then you must make preparations. We understand that it can be very difficult to discuss what has to be done with assets and property when you pass away; however, if you have not prepared your estate, it can be even more complicated and expensive for your family to navigate the probate process when you pass.   

If you pass away and you have not done any estate planning, the legal term for your estate is intestate. The problem with both intestate and wills is that they are governed by a legal process known as probate wherein the courts divide your assets and give them to your heirs. Probate is expensive and can take a very long time. By having a trust, your assets avoid the probate process. You transfer your assets into your trust, which typically you have complete control over during your lifetime. Once you pass, the trustee will divide your assets according to your direction, thus eliminating the need for the court. 

Understanding the estate planning process can be complicated. There are several other factors that go into deciding if a will or a trust is right for you and your family. No one wants the assets they have earned throughout their lifetime to go to the courts. The most important gift that you could give your family is peace of mind. You should consult an experienced attorney to develop a plan that helps you to protect the assets which you have worked so hard to procure. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or representation.