Estate Planning For Digital Assets

Over the past few years, estate planning has experienced unprecedented change. As we conduct more of our lives online, planning for digital assets and online accounts is crucial to securing your legacy. By law, these accounts are treated differently than other property and assets. Online accounts mandate a new approach: they hold some of your most personal and confidential information, requiring that action taken by your estate and loved ones must respect your privacy.

In Today’s World

Today the average person in the U.S. has more than 130 digital and traditional accounts, and 93% of Americans do not know how these accounts will be managed. Digital assets include any online account that requires a login and a password such as email, online bill-pay, debits, shopping sites like Amazon, PayPal, eBay, and travel rewards as well as apps, subscriptions, podcasts, photographs and music libraries, and social media sites. Even health records are increasingly archived online.

Digital assets also include all your devices such as computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets, e-readers and memory devices. Many computers automatically back-up data storage on the cloud, which may contain intellectual and sentimental property.

Consider how emails have taken the place of letters and that many families archive memories, photographs, and more online. These accounts hold real value, and should be preserved. At best, failure to provide clear directives for all accounts can leave your estate vulnerable to fraud, your heirs subject to costly legal action, or other roadblocks in administering your estate.

The Pitfalls of Passwords

One dangerous misperception is that sharing your online passwords is enough to grant access. Password sharing compromises your privacy and it simply does not work. Each service provider has its own Terms of Service (TOS) agreement. Most preclude password sharing in accordance with state and federal laws, which criminalize the access of an account or a computer without authorization even if you provide the passwords. Many providers have methods in place to lock accounts when unrecognized access is detected.

Privacy…and it matters!

4 out of 5 Americans believe that privacy matters more than access to their accounts—even after death. But leaving accounts unresolved places your entire estate at risk. If you’re 50 or older, you’re a part of the single largest demographic subject to identity theft and fraud.

DCS- Your Partner and Protector

 

We are pleased to announce our partnership with Directive Communication Systems (DCS), the leading provider of digital assets management, to offer the latest services for protecting your estate. We look forward to familiarizing you with the DCS system and guiding you to complete your digital estate plan.

DCS specializes in managing digital assets. The DCS team helps you to create a list of your digital accounts and to assign directions for how you want those accounts handled. When the estate plan goes into effect, DCS applies those directions in concert with our firm. DCS does not record passwords. Nor does DCS view the account contents, credit card expiration dates and other sensitive information. DCS only knows your account exists and protects the integrity of your information in a secure server.  With DCS security is a priority, knowing your personal and confidential information are highly valued.

To get you started, DCS has created several easy to use tools such as;

  • Portfolio Plus– automatically captures and verifies your existing and new accounts, simple to use and saves time
  • Portfolio Link- add your accounts all at once from a single document or file
  • Device Manager- registers your new and future devices and you designate who gets access
  • And more!

 

How to Get Started

Until now, there really hasn’t been a really great way to plan for digital assets.  Now there’s DCS.  As soon as we learned about DCS, Brian and I signed ourselves up personally, and we think you should, too.  If you are an existing client and you are interested in learning more, give us a call at 707-670-1000.

P.S.  We do not earn any fees, rebates, kickbacks, discounts or any other kind of compensation for sending business to DCS; we do it simply because we think it is the right thing to do.

P.P.S.  DCS does not replace DocuBank.  DocuBank continues to be an important mechanism for storing electronic copies of your estate planning documents and for making your healthcare-related documents easily accessible when you need them.

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