Are You Sure You Want THAT in the Cloud?

Are You Sure You Want THAT in the Cloud? article image

“People are storing important documents, such as wills and medical directives, online. While convenient, there are a few things to keep in mind before you open another online account, experts say.”

There are some clear benefits to storing your will and documents online. You and your spouse (or other authorized people) can access them anytime, from anywhere. We are used to putting our lives online. However, there are also some downsides to consider before doing so, according to a helpful article from CNBC titled “Here’s what you need to know before storing your will online.”

It’s good to have all your important documents in one place. However, make sure that the people who will need access, such as executors, know that you’ve done so or any type of storage may well be pointless. Also, be sure to examine the security standards of the online service you choose.

Online storage can also facilitate family conversations about estate planning. Even tech savvy adult children who scoff at parents who don’t engage in social media, will be impressed by a decision to go digital.

However, there are pitfalls.

The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act allows those who are appointed as fiduciaries to access some digital assets in the 45 states (and D.C.) where the law is in place, according to the Uniform Law Commission. ULC is a state-supported organization that brings uniform laws to different jurisdictions. However, unless you give full access to your digital accounts to your attorney or executors, they will not have the right to open these accounts. They might be able to go online to bank accounts but not to your social media accounts or any portals containing important documents. It’s important to be thorough in sharing information with trusted family and advisors so that they have access to everything when needed.

Additionally, some might perceive this shift to a digital world as a replacement for expert advice and a paper copy. Your estate planning attorney is still a vital part of creating a well rounded estate plan and their counsel should not be replaced with today’s internet search. The paper copy of your estate plan that your attorney provides you should also be stored in a safe place for instances when a digital copy is not recognized.

No matter where you decide to store your estate planning documents, creating your plan as early as possible and then organizing and expressing your wishes with your family is extremely important.

Resource: CNBC (July 26, 2018) “Here’s what you need to know before storing your will online.”