August 5, 2013 (slightly amended in April 21, 2018)
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
The objective of an estate planning attorney is to help our clients plan for and execute a smooth and efficient transfer of assets in both terms of time, money and emotional grief. This article petitions you to expand your mind regarding what assets are important to consider in planning your estate.
Did you know that, according to McAffee Security, the average American internet user values their digital assets at $54,722? That represents a significant amount of assets that are left on the table unaccounted regarding planning one’s estate for future generations. Consider your online assets; do you have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube accounts? Do you have email accounts containing important information? While these assets may not immediately appear to you as valuable, your loved ones may disagree. If not, at least give them the opportunity to decide for themselves by ensuring they have access to these accounts after your passing.
In addition to social and email accounts, please consider online assets such as a PayPal account, online store credit, or even cash balances on gaming websites. These accounts are valuable. Similarly, consider precious assets such as family photos, videos or sensitive documents stored online. These assets have sentimental value that may be priceless to your family. It’s important to make them available to your family so they can cherish the particular things that are most important to them. I’m simply advocating thinking ahead in the digital word so your family has the opportunity to choose for themselves. With the inexpensive cost of storage of digital media, coupled with the available online tools to store passwords securely, it’s a no-brainer from a cost benefit standpoint.
The old estate administration advice to look through desk drawers and check the mailbox is no longer sufficient. If you aren’t considering digital assets in your estate planning, you are likely receiving incomplete advice that will leave your family scratching their heads when the time comes for estate administration.
The old advice to have a client keep a paper list of assets, liabilities and important passwords in an unsecure manner risks that it won’t be found by estate representatives or family members, ever. Utilizing storage in a safe deposit box or lawyer vault is an option but it may render your list extremely out-of-date when the time comes to take a look.
Fortunately, the digital revolution provides a wealth of convenient and secure solutions. Password safes like LastPass, LegacyLocker, AfterSteps and EstateMap use a single, master password to manage a encrypted database of usernames and passwords, which enables you to pass on just one master password instead of many. Unfortunately, these utilities are not solutions to allowing you to pick and choose who gets access to which account and the timing of such access.
Here’s a breakdown of some solutions for secure password storage:
LastPass – https://lastpass.com/
LegacyLocker – http://legacylocker.com/ is a consumer service that gives users the ability to selectively pass-on online asset information. On the downside, it’s simplistic and only deals with online assets.
AfterSteps – https://www.aftersteps.com/ is another direct-to-consumer offering that allows users to store and pass on a broader variety of information.
Estate Map – http://estatemap.com/ is a robust, highly-secure solution that allows password management along with the ability to selectively pass-on a wealth of other important estate information while simultaneously delivering client management solutions to the estate attorney. Estate Map incorporates the estate attorney into the process — seamlessly integrating into an existing practice with ease. As a big upside, Estate Map offers a free, no-obligation introduction to take it for a test drive.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose
YOU ARE NOT OUR CLIENT UNLESS WE EXECUTE A WRITTEN AGREEMENT TO THAT EFFECT. MOREOVER, THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. EACH SITUATION IS HIGHLY FACT SPECIFIC AND EXCEPTIONS OFTEN EXIST TO GENERAL RULES. DO NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION, AS A CONSULTATION TO UNDERSTAND THE FACTS AND THE CLIENT’S NEEDS AND GOALS IS NECESSARY. ULTIMATELY WE MUST BE RETAINED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION. THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS A COURTESY AND, ACCORDINGLY, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.