In recent years a number of digital document storage or archives companies have come into existence, offering people the ability to keep their digital documents secure in a digital format. These companies offer you the ability to access your documents at any time from any computer, and give you the ability to pass on accessibility to others who might need to use the document you have stored. But before you choose to use a digital archive service, there are some issues you need to understand.
Digital Document Archives
Digital archives and documents storage companies offer you the ability to keep important documents in a secure place. If, for example, you create an estate plan that includes multiple powers of attorney, trust documents, and a last will and testament, you might want to keep digital copies with a digital archives or document storage company so that they can all be kept in a single place and be accessed when needed.
But there are some precautions you need to take if and when you decide to use such a service. For example, if you become incapacitated, who will be able to access these documents? Have you given specific instructions to the company about allowing others to access those documents? Do others know you store your documents with the company, and know how to contact the company to access them?
And what about the company itself? Are the digital storage facilities safe? If the company goes out of business, as many startups are prone to do, do you know how you can retrieve your documents?
Being clear about the answers to each of these questions is essential if you want to rely on third-party to keep your important documents safe and secure.
Digital Documents and Digital Estate Planning
If you have important digital documents, such as estate planning tools, financial records, intellectual property records, or anything else, creating a comprehensive digital estate plan is essential. Part of this plan should include ways that you can give others the ability to access important documents if and when needed, as well as backup or alternative options should your preferred storage method not be available at that time.
As an ancillary piece of a good digital estate plan, digital document archives can serve a useful purpose. However, they should not be the only tool upon which you rely. At the very least you should have in place a good letter of instruction to your estate executor or personal representative. The letter of instruction will contain the specific pieces of information your representative needs to know, and should include details about how to access estate planning documents, as well as digital documents or assets you might possess. If you haven’t decided on how to store your important documents, talk to us for advice.