Wall Street Journal Agrees With Me – Passing On Online Information Should Be Part of Your Estate Plan

July 21, 2009 Victor Medina Do-It-Yourself Legal Planning, Membership Program, YourLawyers4Life 0 Comments

Recently, I posted about the need to pass on your “on line” information as part of a comprehensive estate plan. My article examined the various companies that offered to guard that information for you. It seems like the Wall Street Journal reads my blog because they just published an article of their own on Sunday regarding the same topic. I’m not angry, just happy that they’re giving the topic or wider audience than I can provide.

In all seriousness, people are slowly coming to grips with how different this world is than one just 10 years ago. One of the professional associations to which I belong spent a few days debating back and forth the merits of planning for this type of “wealth” transfer in estate planning. I’m not sure there was a consensus, but I remain committed to helping him my clients with this problem by saving that information for them. From my perspective, estate planning is about transferring ALL of your wealth, not just your finances – such as your Spiritual, Emotional and Intellectual assets that you’ve acquired over your lifetime. For many people, information that is on the Internet, passwords, etc. is also included in that list.

It is often forgotten how much of a confidant attorneys were for their clients in the past. It’s our job to keep secrets, our client’s secrets, and the best of us do that very well. It stands to reason then that attorneys should be a natural repository for the type of secure information that needs to remain secure during a client’s lifetime and be transferred safely to the next generation when necessary. We need to get back to the idea that your lawyer is your counselor, not just during crisis moments, but during your lifetime.

My biggest problem with these companies and the services that they offer is that none of them has any professional license on the line if they mess up. There are also no barriers to entry to do this work. (Whereas an attorney needs a degree (most of the time), pass a bar exam, and has their license subject to review and revocation if they screw up.) Therefore, for these businesses, there is no incentive (beyond a business incentive) to act correctly in a situation. As we have seen in the past, online information is less than secure and there is no guarantee that even the best companies won’t have information taken from them, or be somewhat “negligent” in securing that information in-house. It has happened to the largest credit card companies; why should we think that small startups claiming to be able to hold your information secret should be any different?

What I liked about the Wall Street Journal article was the way it highlighted how being in the 21st century means that there may be assets which have no physical presence in the world. Follow me on this one for a moment, nowadays people are very accustomed to doing their banking online, creating an investment account online, and choosing to go paperless when it comes to statements. It is very easy to imagine a rather significant investment account that no one knows about or can discover after the person dies.

Just to show that I don’t hold grudges, here is the link to the Wall Street Journal article-https://is.gd/1FHFY

Posted by Victor Medina,
Medina, Martinez & Castroll, LLC

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