RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

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Estate Planning: Digital Rights Explained

October 24, 2014 1:33 am

Unlike Vegas, what happens online goes everywhere and stays there forever. The permanence of our online lives poses a few, often unconsidered challenges for estate planning, especially regarding our social media identity and money invested in digital books or music.

For instance, that moment when a social media post tells you "Bob 'likes' Palatial Pizza" – even though Bob passed away over two years ago. While awkward, is anything at risk? And are there options for a family or friend to take the site down?

What's at risk?
"Every social networking site has its own policies regarding giving a friend or family access to update or take down a site," says Sarah White, an attorney in Marietta, Georgia and part of the Attorney Network for ARAG®, a leader in legal insurance. Choosing to leave a site up puts everyone at risk for some potential drama caused by people (known as trolls in the online world) who may leave insulting or inflammatory comments.

For many families, however, leaving the account open is a good choice. "It's a way to let people know of the passing and to offer a place for people to share thoughts, feelings and memories," says White.

Can I plan ahead?

If you'd like to be more proactive about how your social media identity is managed, check your state law. "Some states allow you to name someone who can take control of, handle and terminate your digital accounts at death," says White. "These new laws override any policy the social networking site may have."

To designate someone as the caretaker of your digital accounts, create a list of your user names and passwords and keep it with your will and final instructions.

What happens to my iTunes and Kindle books?
"The problem with allocating the digital books and songs you think you own is that you don't really own them," says White. "What you own is a license to use the digital files. Specifically, Amazon and Apple grant nontransferable rights to use Kindle books or to listen to songs on iTunes, but you can't pass them to a child or spouse."

Estate planning laws in many states haven't caught up to technology yet. As people spend more money on digital content, the law will soon catch up to technology, enabling that content to be passed on like other property.

Source: ARAG

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fix Five Sources of Energy Waste for Less Than 20 Bucks

October 24, 2014 1:33 am

With cold weather slated for the months ahead, homeowners everywhere are seeking ways to cut down on energy costs. Black Hills Energy recommends homeowners implement cost-effective fixes – many costing less than $20 – to eliminate sources of energy waste.

“Nearly half of all energy use during the colder weather months is dedicated to heating homes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Jill Linck, Energy Services Division for Black Hills Energy. “We want to arm consumers with simple ways to increase heating efficiency in their homes, as well as to check other, less obvious sources of energy waste, including appliance use.”

In honor of Energy Awareness Month, the experts at Black Hills Energy recommend checking these energy consumers for cost-saving solutions.
  • Air leakage: Air leakage occurs when cold outside air enters and warm air escapes through cracks and openings, increasing the cost of keeping a home at a consistently comfortable temperature. Feel for leaks by floating your hand around the perimeters of doors and windows, electrical outlets, and even cable and telephone line entry points, then seal any problem spots using caulk and a $5 caulking gun. Adding weatherstripping to doors and windows is another low-cost way to keep the winter chill out and the warm air in.
  • Dirty air filters: Dirty furnace air filters can clog and cause higher resistance of air flow, particularly during high-usage months. Diligent cleaning of air filters each month for about $20 with filter spray and oil, and replacing them about every three months keeps warm, clean air flowing throughout a home.
  • Kitchen culprits: It’s hard to resist opening the oven door to check on baking cookies or a Thanksgiving turkey, but did you know the temperature inside an oven drops 25 degrees every time the door is opened while in use? This increases cook time and wastes energy. Instead, turn on the oven light for a peek inside. When using the stovetop, use the right sized pot or pan for each burner – for example, a six-inch pan atop an eight-inch burner wastes 40 percent of the burner’s energy.
  • Duct leaks from the furnace to the vent: HVAC ducts that leak conditioned air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to heating and cooling bills. Sealing seams with duct mastic means a furnace doesn’t have to work overtime to keep your family cozy. Duct mastic is available for under $15 per gallon, and can be applied with an inexpensive paint brush.
  • Thermostat control: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adjusting a thermostat down 5 degrees to 10 degrees while you’re asleep or while you’re out of the house can help you save on heating and cooling bills. Utilize programmable thermostats for when you’re typically out of the house, too. A good rule of thumb is to keep the thermostat set to 68 degrees.
Source: Black Hills Energy

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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