Estate planning is the process of organizing and arranging your assets, such as property, investments, and personal possessions, in a way that they will be distributed according to your wishes after your death.
It typically involves creating legal documents, such as a will or trust, to ensure that your assets are distributed to the people or organizations you choose.
Estate planning also involves taking steps to minimize taxes and other costs associated with the transfer of assets after your death, and to ensure that your assets are protected in the event that you become incapacitated and unable to manage them yourself.
Estate planning can be done with the help of an estate planning attorney and/or financial advisor.
Technology has had a significant impact on estate planning by making it more accessible and efficient.
Here are a few examples of how technology is affecting estate planning.
Online Will and Trust Creation
Online Will and Trust creation refers to the process of creating legal documents, such as a Will or Trust, using the internet and computer software. This process allows individuals to create their estate planning documents without the need to meet in person with a lawyer.
Online Will creation services typically provide a user-friendly interface that guides individuals through the process of creating a Will. They may ask questions about the individual’s assets, beneficiaries, and other important information needed to create a legally binding will. Once the Will is completed, it can be printed or stored electronically for safekeeping.
Online Trust creation services work similarly, but instead of creating a Will, they help individuals create a Trust, which is a legal entity that holds assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. Trusts can be useful for a variety of reasons, such as minimizing taxes, protecting assets from creditors, or providing for a beneficiary who is unable to manage their affairs.
Online Will and Trust creation make estate planning more affordable and convenient for many people.
Digital Asset Management
Digital asset management refers to the process of organizing, storing, and distributing digital assets following an individual’s wishes.
Digital assets can include things like email accounts, social media accounts, digital files, digital currency, and other online accounts that hold personal information. It’s important to note that these assets can have significant monetary or sentimental value, and as such, they should be considered as part of an individual’s estate plan.
Managing digital assets can be challenging, as they are often scattered across various accounts and platforms, and access to them may be lost upon an individual’s death or incapacity.
It’s important to keep the digital asset management plan up-to-date and to review it regularly. It’s also important to note that different platforms have different policies for handling accounts of deceased or incapacitated users, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of each platform.
Fortunately, technology has made it easier to manage and distribute these assets after an individual’s death.
Additionally, estate planning professionals and financial advisors can also help in managing digital assets and incorporating them into the estate plan.
Online Document Storage
Online document storage refers to the practice of storing important documents, such as estate planning documents, on the internet, as opposed to traditional physical storage methods like paper or microfilm.
Online document storage can be done through various means, such as storing documents on a personal computer or cloud storage or using an online document storage service. This can include storing digital copies of documents like Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorney, and other legal documents.
There are several benefits to using online document storage:
- Convenience: Online document storage allows easy access to important documents from anywhere with an internet connection.
- Security: Online document storage providers often use encryption and other security measures to protect documents from unauthorized access.
- Backup: Online storage providers often keep multiple copies of the documents, which can protect against data loss from hardware failure or other issues.
- Sharing: Online document storage allows for the easy sharing of documents with relevant parties, such as executors, trustees, and beneficiaries.
- Cost-effective: Online document storage is often more affordable than traditional physical storage methods.
However, it’s important to note that online document storage is not without its risks. It’s important to ensure that the online storage provider is reputable and that the documents are securely stored and backed up.
Additionally, it’s important to note that different jurisdictions have different laws regarding the validity and enforceability of electronic documents. It’s always advisable to consult with a lawyer or financial advisor before storing estate planning documents online.
With the ability to store documents online, it is easier to access and share important estate planning documents with relevant parties, such as executors, trustees, and beneficiaries.
Automated reminders refer to the use of technology to schedule and send reminders to individuals about certain tasks or events related to estate planning. These reminders can be set to remind the individual to review and update their estate plan, or to remind them of important deadlines or appointments related to their estate plan.
Automated reminders can be set up through various means, such as calendar software, email, text message, or mobile apps. These reminders can be scheduled at specific intervals, such as annually, or on specific dates, such as a birthday or anniversary.
Using automated reminders can have several benefits:
- Timely: Automated reminders can help ensure that estate planning documents are reviewed and updated promptly.
- Convenient: Automated reminders can be set up to send at a time and place that is convenient for the individual.
- Reliable: Automated reminders are not subject to human error, so they can be relied on to send reminders consistently.
With the use of technology, automated reminders can prompt individuals to review and update their estate plan, ensuring that it stays current and reflects their current wishes.
It is important to note that technology also brings new challenges to estate planning, such as ensuring the security and privacy of sensitive information stored online, and ensuring that digital assets are properly transferred to the intended beneficiaries.
Overall, technology has made estate planning more efficient and accessible, but it is still important to consult a lawyer or financial advisor to ensure that your estate plan is legally sound and properly executed.