Secured Storage


Secured Storage By: Samantha R. Banning, Legal Assistant

Most people consider creating an estate plan as a one-time transaction. They hire an attorney to have a thorough estate plan prepared and invest their time in the process to choose Trustees, Executors, and fiduciaries. Upon completion, the documents are stored in a home office along with all the other “important papers.” Whew. Check that task off the list.

Years later though, after a person passes, family begins searching for all of the important papers, most of which have not been revisited in years, if not decades. The grief and stress during this time, paired with long lists of information to gather, results in documents being lost and never found preventing them from being utilized. What a shame! Proper record keeping is an essential step to creating and maintaining an estate plan.

There are many approaches to electronic record keeping. Here’s what we’ve learned about a few of the options.

“Dropbox” remains one of the most used programs for file storage because of its reputation and ease of use. It’s also a common enterprise solution, so familiarity in the workplace easily translates to a personal solution. The platform provides 2GB of free storage space which is robust for the average person’s personal document needs and it’s easily used across devices. A big advantage is the user-friendly nature of simply dragging a file from it’s storage location into the Dropbox system.

“Google Drive” is another great solution, especially for those with more storage needs. The platform provides 15GB of free storage space and allows all file types to be stored. Google Drive boasts a secure server and automatic cloud synchronization. With Gmail being such a common personal email provider, the majority find this storage solution user friendly.

“Amazon Cloud Drive” also ranks high as a secure storage solution with similar advantages to its competitors. The platform offers 5GB of free storage, and can store a wide variety of file types, immediately syncing with the secure server.

Experts argue for the ease of managing a flash drive or SD card and storing these and/or copies of your important documents in a home fire-proof box or safe.

The list of enterprise solutions is long, represented by programs like “Egnyte” and “ShareFile” that boast large storage capacities, and provide access to several users at once, but come with significant costs.

All these solutions do require maintenance and remove the transaction-style thinking of prior generations. Important documents change regularly and should be updated in our storage systems. Password management is another area of weakness requiring regular review and updates. Additionally, home safes are opened with keys and combinations that our trusted fiduciaries should have access to in the event of our incapacity or death.

Remember that several options discussed here add to an individual’s list of digital assets, and that a person’s estate plan needs to expressly provide our fiduciaries with permission to access and manage these.

Overall, everyone should be utilizing some way to store their most important documents whether a highly secured portal, locked away in a safe, or both. Most important to taking this step is sharing access with trusted people.