A Writer’s Legacy in a Digital World

I’m not trying to be morose but something has been nagging at me for some time now, and it’s important to discuss with all of you. I’ve been wondering what to do with my intellectual property (as well as my material property) once I’ve walked on from this life (or become incapacitated in some way). Perhaps some of you have pondered this as well if, like me, you’re in the second half of life. I perused a few articles and even asked an acquaintance, who happens to be a lawyer, about this issue. He mentioned that since this is such a new situation, it has presented some difficulties and obstacles when drawing up the paperwork for a client’s estate: Will, Power of Attorney, Health Proxy, Advanced Directive, etc. Did you know that most Americans don’t even have a Will? They figure the family will somehow work it all out. Believe me, they couldn’t be more WRONG. (I would’ve had a nightmare situation with my family if I hadn’t taken my mother to an attorney to complete all the paperwork years before her death.)

Attorneys refer to these as your Digital Assets (DA). Do you trust someone enough to have access when you’re unable or gone? Need to think about this one, because not everyone’s as trustworthy as one might think, especially if money or personal information is involved. First step is to take an inventory of your DA:

  • Do you have a Paypal or any account that has monetary value? Who will have access in case you’re incapacitated? Or worse, if you die? What happens to the money? Who benefits?
  • What about email accounts (personal and/or business), blogs, and podcasts? Personal and business websites? Do you want them up and running for people to read your when-you-were-a-breathing-starving-artist work?
  • Do you keep a list of logins and passwords to all the accounts you use? I do, and I update it regularly. But I abbreviate the logins so no one else will figure them out if they get their hands on the list. I also keep an updated copy in one of those many cloud accounts in case something happens to my computer. The list is getting longer, though, since one can’t shop on sites as a guest anymore. I just cleaned out my list and it’s still a full page of two columns (it had been two pages)! 
  • What electronic devices do you own that need a password for access? Do you have a laptop, smartphone, tablet, DVR/Tivo, or a home burglary system?
  • Do you bank online? What about mortgage payments, investment banking, utilities, or airline memberships?
  • Do you have any online accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube? Any accounts to e-commerce sites (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Ebay, etc.)? You also need to check the policies of these companies regarding access by another person – which is why you will need to legally designate someone  if you want that person to clean up your online mess.
  • How much of your writing is unfinished? Do you want someone else to finish it? Or would you prefer your Executor/Executrix just heave every incomplete project, every potential novel/poetry book/best-selling short story into a shredder (digital or physical)? What will you do with the work you have completed? Published? Who gets the royalties? It’s a bit mind-boggling to think about it. But you MUST think about it – and DECIDE.
  • What about cleaning up your personal information collected by those data-mining companies? If you think it won’t matter once you’re gone, you’re wrong. Someone could use your identity and then perhaps gain access to your DA and online life – and then your hard-earned money.

Whew. This is not an exhaustive list but it will hopefully get many of you thinking more about your DA and how to protect it (in perpetuity) or do away with it. It’s a sobering experience to think of your life in these terms, but in the long run you’re doing your family or loved ones a favor by setting it down on paper. If you’re not sure you can trust someone to take care of everything, why not designate your attorney? They’re legally bound to follow the client’s directives, so your DA would be protected or disposed of according to the terms of your Will.

I’m planning to do this; at least then I’ll have some peace of mind about what happens to my work when I’m gone. Perhaps I’ll set up some sort of trust so that revenues (royalties) from my books will be donated to nonprofit organizations of my choosing. That will be my legacy.

What will your legacy be?

estate-planning2

A Story of Obstacles and Desires

Some time ago I saw a cartoon of a dog straining at its leash, barking ferociously at a cat, as if to say, “Just lemme at ’em.” The cat wasn’t too shabby – actually looked mean – and was at least as big as the dog. All of a sudden in the middle of a ferocious bark, the leash snapped so the dog was free to go after the cat. He looked astonished. Scared to death. He quickly grabbed the leash, ran back and tied a triple knot. Then, he could again safely strain at the leash and bark his fiery, “Just lemme at ’em.”

Every story of an obstacle has a shadow story of desire. The obstacle contains yet conceals the desire. What you seek is camouflaged in what you fear.

The secret hiding in the open is that an obstacle is the unconscious mnemonic of desire – it reminds you of what you want, but makes it safe to want if you’re afraid.

When viewing a scene in a film you don’t want to see, you cover your face with your hands as if to say, “No, I don’t want to look.” But then the desire creeps in and you peek through your fingers at what you’re drawn to see. The obstacle makes looking acceptable.

Sometimes we need an obstacle to free a desire. When the obstacle is unpacked, the forbidden desire also emerges. When Pandora’s box was opened, all of the evils were released into the world. Remember the last thing to emerge? It was hope.

Pay attention to the obstacles that you construct, especially to your vocabulary of impediments. Worry simply holds onto things, as a form of storage.

When you find yourself focusing on an obstacle (“I can’t find time to exercise”, “I can’t put away any savings”), reflect on the underlying desire. When you’re ready to consider that you create the obstacle, you’re also ready to consider the possibility of not creating it.

Imagine what it would be like to not create your obstacles.

Dr. David Krueger, M.D. is Dean of Curriculum at Coach Training Alliance, CEO of MentorPath, and author of The Secret Language of Money (McGraw Hill), a Business Bestseller translated into 10 languages.

The Story of Three Needles

This is a true story – because it’s my story, told in my first book, A Bump in the Road (Chapter 5, now retired). I just wanted to share something uplifting today, considering the election results.

Dr. Aaron Chen was a small-built man in his forties with boyish features, short jet black hair, and wore eyeglasses reminiscent of John Lennon. His smile was genuine and wide as he extended his hand to me. I liked him immediately. I felt renewed just being in his presence. A positive connection like that is vital to the patient’s healing process, I quickly realized.

He led me from the reception area to a room decorated with antique Asian décor; the scent of sandalwood swirled about the room. In the far right corner sat two camelback chairs upholstered in a bold, China red silk fabric embossed with gold Chinese characters. A simple wooden table placed between them held little clutter: a metallic miniature desk lamp, a small red statue of Buddha, and a jade green Chinese tea cup containing several pens. On the opposite wall stood a handsomely carved mahogany bookcase crammed with textbooks and other academic works. Some of the books were at least three inches thick and I wondered if he’d read their contents. Most likely. Okay, I’m impressed, I thought. The area rug covering the polished wood floor was noticeably Persian; its earthy tones complemented the bolder colors of the furniture. Placed on top of that striking rug, in the center, was the treatment table. Light in the room glowed softly from a torchier lamp in the corner behind one of the chairs.

Dr. Chen invited me to sit in one of the gorgeous silk chairs, he sat in the other. In his hands was a file folder, presumably mine, and he pulled out a form on which he began writing my personal information – name, age, main complaint, etc. He questioned me for almost forty-five minutes. Some of the questions seemed a bit odd to me: describe the color, consistency, and frequency of my urine and stools, for example. I’d answered his questions as best I could and hoped he would be able to make sense of the information I’d provided. He checked my pulses and asked me to stick out my tongue, then wrote again on the form. He was a kind and caring man; I knew that from the start. Having explained my financial situation on the phone earlier, he had agreed to charge me a reduced fee – he was more concerned with treating my urgent health issues. Then Dr. Chen requested I change into the dressing gown on the table and he departed the room, allowing me privacy.

I suffered from bouts of vertigo, nausea and vomiting in addition to the hand pains and heart palpitations. When Dr. Chen returned, he asked if I was able to lie on my back. I said I was not. We compromised and I slowly reclined on to my left side. He delayed beginning the treatment until the dizzy spell had passed. Once settled, he began the process of inserting the acupuncture needles; he made it clear that I should not move at all once the needles were inserted. I nodded in acknowledgement.

Here’s the really amazing part: because I couldn’t lie on my back for a full treatment, he used only THREE needles to address my symptoms. That’s right, three needles. With the needles in, he began acupressure on other areas of my body to help reduce my overall anxiety – it was calming, to say the least. Twenty-five minutes later the needles were removed and I sat up slowly, fearful the dizziness would rise up, make the room spin and knock me off balance. It didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, the vertigo was gone. So was the nausea (and therefore, the vomiting). I was dumbfounded. Walking into walls and vomiting in the car disappeared like they had never existed. Now I could focus on getting rid of the insomnia, those damned palpitations, and the hand pains. I was thrilled that I’d made the right choice.

I hopped down the stairs of Dr. Chen’s office with a spring in my step I hadn’t had in…well, it had been so long I couldn’t remember when…carrying an appointment card confirming my next visit. I drove home with all the windows down, letting in the fresh breeze of a summer’s day and letting out all my cares, eager for my next visit with Dr. Chen. I wondered what other miracles he might accomplish.

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

 

Reign in Presidential Hegemony with the Write Words

A short note:

A precarious election looms. One candidate is a misogynistic, chauvinistic, greedy corporate scallywag; the other is a power-hungry, temperamental, maligning bully with many dark secrets. Neither truly has our best interests at heart. As writers, we MUST utilize the First Amendment and use the power of our WORDS to protect our tenuous rights (first obliterated by the idiot Bush Jr., when free association embodied terrorism to him and his cronies). While they speak of fixing what is wrong with our country, neither of these presidential candidates will walk the talk.

As usual.

Vote your conscience today. VOICE your opinion, as is your CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT.