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Under Ohio law when parents surrender legal custody to non-parents they retain certain residual parental rights, including “the privilege to determine the child’s religious affiliation.” Does this mean that a birth parent in such a situation can insist that the child not be a member of a church? The Summit County Court of Appeals has said yes in a recent opinion. The Volokh Conspiracy blawg has an interesting post about the decision:
An Ohio woman changed her name to Sexy recently. Apparently the application filed in Probate Court showed reasonable and proper cause for changing the woman’s name to
Sexy, as required under the Ohio Revised Code, or at least the Licking County Probate judge found so.
A woman has sued her bank and Equifax in an effort to correct reports that she is dead. The woman from the St. Louis area said that because of her deceased status she has been turned down for a credit card and twice denied refinancing on her mortgage, as reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the ABA Journal and Wall Street Journal Law Blog.
She says she has repeatedly asked the bank and Equifax to fix the error, to no avail. The suit claims a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows recovery of damages, lawsuit costs, and statutory penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.
Most people would think that their executor, trustee, or agent under a Power of Attorney would generally have authority to obtain information about, or gain access to, relevant digital accounts in case of disability or death. However, it may not be that easy. General authority may not be sufficient under laws enacted to protect your privacy, to prevent cyber-theft, and to increase computer security. In some circumstances it may be unlawful for an agent to access an account even if the agent has access to the username and password. And the terms of service on many online accounts do not authorize an agent to act on behalf of the account owner.
Many states do not yet have laws that specifically authorize an agent to access electronic accounts. It is likely that most states will enact laws in the coming years to deal with this with this issue and provide a specific method for authorization. But for the time being it is prudent to add language to wills, trusts and financial powers of attorney specifically granting agents, executors, or trustees access to digital assets.
A will can help accomplish many things, including naming executors, explaining how family heirlooms and other property should be distributed, and naming guardians for your minor children. A will should be part of a comprehensive estate plan, but it is a good place to start. Here are some basic steps to get you started in making a simple will:
1. Choose what property will be in your will — First, create a list of your assets. Then decide what will pass through your estate after you pass away.
2. Determine who will inherit your property — also consider alternate beneficiaries in case your primary choices do not survive you.
3. Choose your executor — An executor is the person you name to carry out the instructions of your will. Consider a potential alternate in the event that the first choice cannot serve.
4. Choose a guardian — If you have children under the age of 18, you should name a guardian — someone you trust to look after your children.
This information will be needed to create a simple last will and testament.