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I'd been a "lone wolf" for so long I just haven't thought much about this stuff. But I got married in the summer, and it's been a long haul to get my reality re-adjusted to it not just being myself I had to worry about anymore.
The value of my online assets is a small % of the overall picture, but its important. My will states where ownership goes, but I've been lax in dealing with the technical details of how to arrange the transfer of ownership, and how to keep things "up and running" in the meantime.
A will just isn't going to cut it. Depending on where you live, it can take an AGE for a will to clear probate (I've seen probate drag on for several years in some cases), and in the meantime, any business can go down the tubes without a clear plan of action. Online, a year or two can mean massive changes to a business.
I'm thinking along the following lines:
I have two friends who aren't connected. One is a close friend I've had for a decade and a half, who I'd trust implicitly with a lot of this information. The fact that he works in computer security for one of the "big three" security companies, and as such, is subject to a tremendous level of oversight in his online dealings is a definite plus. The other is a friend I acquired through the marriage. Nice fellow, technically savvy, very trustworthy, and happily married. Between the two of them, I think I have two people who have the savvy to keep things running, and the trustworthiness to look after mine and my wife's best interests.
If I were to give both these men the information neccessary to keep things going while the legal hassle of probate is underway, I would have a double redunant system that would probably work.
Writing a will alone is *not* enough to secure the continuity of a business and the last thing you want is a business going through probate. There are lawyers who specialize in setting up the trusts, "buy sell agreements," wills, and other documents that are needed for a solid business continuation plan. If the business is worth anything, talk to a lawyer that does this kind of work.
Get advice from a professional based on your current fiscal etc situation.This is meant as general advice.
I am listed on each site as owner of the designs and contents of the sites. Our contract gives me all money earned on the sites I design, write and build in my lifetime.
There will be no changeover as he also has his name on all my bank accounts. I have the greatest of trust in him and he has never let me down. If you can find someone in your family that you trust that well then the end will simply be a continuation.
Health problems dictated doing things this way as he and I are the only ones in our family who can manage such a business and websites.
It was in the last few weeks where this very thought crossed my mind. The people who would be able to take over my sites would be very ill-equipped to manage them or even get proper value if they sold them.
Definately mulling over what lengths I need to go to in order to make sure the assets at least find proper value if something happened to me.
So, I decided to create a document with complete instructions on how to run my sites: where everything is, what all the administrative tools are, maintenance and things to check, problems that might occur as well as solutions to them, people to contact, all of the account names and passwords needed for domain registration, ad companies, email servers and so forth... so if something should happen to me, my family and/or partners aren't left up the creek.
Although, I have not done anything in order to have a running business after my death, but I have purchased a house without mortgage which has increased in value by double.
This is one investment, which my family can always cash and live peacefully, until my kids grow up.
From Jan 2006, I will also set aside a portion of my monthly earnings in a separate joint account, for unforeseen circumstances.
Ideally, I would like to hire services of a professional firm, belonging to this industry, who can run the business with small %age as there fee.
I do wonder how Google would handle a situation where a publisher dies, his bank account is closed, and the EFT payments stop going through. How diligent would Google be about contacting the heirs? If the publisher had sites on, say, Blogspot, his content could be on the web indefinitely generating clicks.
As for me, I've told no one in my family about my websites and AdSense revenue for fear of invalid clicks. The situation would be different if I had a wife and children.
Since he did not leave information about his sites, it was a nightmare trying to figure out what sites he owned, what the passwords were to everything, etc. With some hard work, and a lot of intuitive detecting, I was able to eventually (after a few months), find out all the info for them.
Where is the hard work?
And all the username / passwords become visible.
The "user manuals" for all my sites are going to run for 70-80 pages combined. They will give basic instructions, passwords and know-how to keep my sites running or to sell them reasonably well.
When this will be done, I will print 4 copies of it, keep one for myself and give one each to a trusted person.
My kids have no interest in learning or running the business, all of them adults. So, there is no point leaving the business to them, or even allowing them to sell it upon my death, and reap the rewards of it.
After all, according to them, it is not a 'real' job, and I am just lazy, sitting on my butt all day, doing nothing. I guess I am also an idiot, because I don't understand how $10k month can't be considered a 'real' job.
If my spouse goes with me, the University gets it all. Sealed documents will having all the needed info, are held by the attorney, and will be sent to the University immediately upon our death. They can do with it as they wish. At least that ultimate decision of what happens to the business will be made by people from our peer group, of like mind, with a brain.
The business will run itself for up to a year, because of the way I have the whole thing set up. There might be a few minor glitches, expected. But, for the most part things will be fine until the University takes over.
That is, unless before I die I 'adopt' a techie nerdy type adult daughter and/or son. Then, they get the business. My natural kids get the rest, including the life insurance policys.
When my site was just a pure hobby, with no income, I could have happily given it away to another enthusiast who had the interest and skills to run it, or just let it die with me. (Of course this is the internet, and my domain is paid up for a long time, so the site would have lingered on for a few years)
Now that the income beats flipping burgers at a fast food joint it seems to be more complicated.
I could teach my wife how to keep the site going, routine maintenence stuff like posting new user submitted content, but the sites not really in her main area of interest.
I kind of like Janethuggards idea of giving the site to a school, or maybe some other non-profit type organization.
That would be fine if we both passed on at the same time, or if I outlive my wife, but if I pass first I'd like my wife to be able to get the income out of the site for as long as possible.
Lots to think about in this thread.
Wait- the thought just occured to me that you are referring to people that actually make real money, right?
That ain't me.
Sorry for the intrusion...
I mean to look at handing my book review site on to a library or university for institutional longevity, though I don't know of any that use AdSense or Amazon for fundraising.
Dying is the only acceptable way of getting out of the Adsense contract with us as our lawyers couldn't find a way to make all of it enforcable after death - just parts 6b), 8g), 7j) etc. Oh and by the way there's a clause which says that if Google outlives you Google gets back all the earnings. ;) OK, I'm being silly. Yes, planning ahead is a good idea. However look at it this way. Most of the people on this forum I hope would have at least another 80 years left. You've plenty of time to put into effect contingency plans (which you should have already anyway). The main people bothered by dying seem to be those with dependents - wife, kids etc. Try to enjoy life and not get hung up on death. I used to work in that field (no not killing people - as a funeral organist) and if you concentrate on death too much it'll only depress you and send you to an early and gloomy grave.
So, don't worry, be happy but do plan ahead. However "indispensable" you think you are as we all learn how to run websites we automate things for convenience - eg buying hosting and domains for year (or years) rather than monthly etc and if you can do it - someone else out there can and will. What a previous person said was interesting though. If you have set up a company it'll survive your death - kind of like immortality in the business world I suppose. Anyway this is getting off-topic. Is everyone here expecting the Grim Reaper any minute or did I misjudge the ages on this board?
Managing servers,Different domain registrar,Credit cards,paypal passwords and lot more...
Finally I give up and decided to buy as many as possible insurance for myself from the money I make.
Most of the people on this forum I hope would have at least another 80 years left.
You might be very surprized at the age of many posters on this site. 80 more years would have many of us living to be 130 - 140, maybe even 150 yaers old. :)
Oh dear is Adsense code for pension then
I think my pension will be far less than my AdSense income in 18 years when I reach the age to retire.
Looking on the demographics, unemployed statistics in Austria and Germany, reading studies about the development, I think AdSense is also more reliable than the pension from Austrian government.
See an accountant and good tax/corparate lawyer.
They will tell you exactly how to achieve your goals! It will probably cost you $2K to set it up, but who cares!