Estate Planning for the YouTube Generation

The internet has changed the way we live…and divorce. It started with video wills, and now Fox News just reported that Playwright Tricia Walsh-Smith is ranting about her divorce from the wealthy husband on YouTube. It is undeniable that technology and the internet have changed all areas of our lives, and the law is no exception, but how far is too far?

According to Leslie Kaufman’s article in the New York Times, “When the Ex Blogs, the Dirtiest Laundry Is Aired,” we haven’t reached too far quite yet. Kaufman’s article states that although most judges and attorneys agree that airing grievances against an ex in a blog or podcast may be ill-advised and inappropriate, the right to air those grievances is still protected by the First Amendment.

So, what does this mean for attorneys and their clients?

Some attorneys have started including confidentiality provisions in their martital settlement agreements. Such provisions forbid either party to publish any information about the marriage, including fictionalized accounts. I think we may soon see similar provisions included in many prenuptial agreements as well.

Thus far, firms specializing in family law have been the most affected by such posting to the internet, and the privacy issues that result, but we estate planning attorneys will not be immune. People have been making video Wills for years now, how long before these video Wills are being aired on YouTube? It’s not such a leap if you consider the fact that a Last Will and Testament is not a private document, but in fact becomes a matter of public record once it has been submitted to the probate court. And almost every Will or trust contains a no contest clause; will these have to be updated to include “no blogging clauses”?

None of us know what the future holds, but the best way to prevent trouble is to be prepared. Visit our office to make sure your family is protected; right now, and in the years to come.