In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security and the non-profit organization National Cyber Security Alliance named the month of October National Cyber Security Awareness Month. As our lives are ever more connected via technology, cyber security impacts our personal financial security, the security of our online accounts and even our estate planning. For that reason, we are also highlighting National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Started in 2008 by a House resolution, the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils raises awareness of the need for estate planning one week every year.
At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we know that often in today’s world, estate planning and cyber security are integrated far more than ever before. This month, we will focus our blog posts on addressing the ways in which estate planning and our digital footprints cross paths.
From using the Internet to access accounts to web-based programs, websites and even apps on your phone, there is an ever-increasing need to plan for these digital assets, be aware of new and changing laws, restrictions and service agreements. It is crucial to plan in advance so you can ensure your heirs will have access to important accounts and information consistent with the law and with restrictions placed on digital accounts by companies.
There have already been some attempts by a number of states to standardize the rules regarding digital assets and the access fiduciaries may have to accounts and information. As lawmakers work to iron out the legal issues, there are also many concerns about how to securely and legally grant access to fiduciaries. While many fiduciaries are individuals you may have asked to become trustees, you should work with them to ensure they know how to handle online accounts in a secure manner.
This month, our goal is to raise awareness of not only the need to create documents to deal with these issues, but the extra steps to take to make sure this planning works. Documents such as powers of attorney don’t work unless they are acknowledged by the recipient, so you need to be proactive to ensure your fiduciaries have the authority to access your online accounts and other digital assets.
As always, we encourage our clients to communicate their estate plan to their trusted family members and fiduciaries. The more clarity they have in advance, the more readily able they will be to implement your plan with minimal complications in the future.
This is a new and developing area of law that promises to have an impact on all of us. We look forward to expanding on the existing laws and services and hopefully educating you all on the planning that can be done.
For more information, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!