What horrors lie behind your client’s estate’s door, a trick or treat?

by | Nov 8, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Nowadays, we’re so eager to enjoy the treats that lie in our immediate view and are easy to work with that we simply overlook the more important ones. Doing so, we miss better goodies that sit below and out of our immediate view. One can’t help but think of the classic childhood Halloween tale of Hansel and Gretel. Just in case you’re not familiar with this one: Hansel and Gretel are brother and sister abandoned in a forest and find themselves at the hands of an evil witch. She lives in a house made of gingerbread, cake, and candy, all the sweet things that children love. She lures them into the house where she prepares to baste them and enjoy them as a delicious meal. Luckily they escape, but only to have a close call to losing their lives.

By now, you’re probably wondering how this relates to estate planning. Well, like most people, your estate includes some very attractive assets including investments, stocks, bonds…maybe even some cryptocurrency, NFTS, and domain names.” While some of these assets are easily visible and can be transferred to heirs, others in the digital asset category can be lurking below the surface. Missing them can be disastrous.

Most people are unaware that digital property is elusive to representatives and loved ones making them difficult to find and access. This creates the perfect situation to go completely lost or unreachable. And unaware of the governing forces around the online accounts, privacy laws, fiduciary access laws, and Terms of Service Agreements dictate the conditions under which access to needed contents are granted.

With online accounts and digital property there are plenty of surprises for those left behind. There may be expectations that they would inherit sentimental and/or financial matters from a departed’s estate only to find out that it was left to someone else entirely under other scenarios controlled by privacy and access laws, content provider features, or custodian policies. If you ask me, this seems like a trick; trapping you in a house that looks easy only to be lured into a complex maze of customer service departments and processes that ultimately will trap you.

Your estate plan may be in good shape for handling traditional property, but you must take a proactive approach to protect all you’ve worked for and preserved in today’s world of technology.

The Passage of Time…Another Trick

As you grow older, your estate plan needs to change. Many people mistakenly believe that once they have an estate plan in place, it can remain static for the rest of their lives. However, there are several reasons why you should ensure your estate plan is up-to-date that include an increasing dependence on digital activities.

Innovators are delivering new products and services all the time that we are quick to enroll in or download to our devices. Each time this is done, another digital footprint is created. Many of these are unknown to loved ones and representatives but may be a critical component to a property portfolio. Often, they’re not included in estate strategies and are left behind in administrations and settlements. The Estate plan and documents need to be
revisited and updated on a regular basis.

In short, don’t be enticed into thinking your asset portfolio is safe from being devoured by the ghouls and goblins that come with digital property. You’ve worked hard to build your wealth and a lifetime of memories. Digital property shouldn’t destroy your estate plans and legacy.

Directive Communication is an easy-to-use and proven succession management program designed specifically for handling online accounts and digital property. Compliant to privacy and fiduciary laws, and Terms of Service Agreements, DCS provides our clients with an effective service for organizing and maintaining digital assets and their directives that result in successful administrations. To learn more about DCS, visit www.directivecommunications.com or call 1.800.372.8121.