Rapid Changes In Tech, Mean Rapid Changes For Estate Planning Services

Feb 15, 2023

We have reached the 4th year after the COVID-19 pandemic and we continue to see changes in the way businesses, education, employment, and family planning are conducted. The global lockdown led the way to some much-needed updating in the way estate planning and legal services are provided. Courtrooms and law offices quickly turned into virtual meetups, pushing the boundaries of professionalism and the quality of services that clients often expect. Tech companies and law offices alike saw an opportunity to fill this niche, which continues to influence estate planning and legal services today.

Digital Documentation

It wasn’t long ago that in order to send sensitive information from one location to another, we had to use fax machines or “snail mail.” The overwhelming halt of essential services showed just how important online access to documents, bill paying, and education was to continue on with everyday life. Today, in some ways, using encrypted file management systems is more secure than sending one-of-a-kind documents through a mail carrier. It’s not always enough to just make a copy and keep it in a safe in your home, or in a safety deposit box at the bank. These days, it’s common to buy a house, pay taxes, or even file a protective order without even getting out of bed.

With the rise of secure apps designed for secure document management, even notary services have had to rise to the occasion. Previously, a notary would meet with the signing parties to verify their photo IDs and ensure that the documents were signed appropriately, then they would use a state seal to physically mark the document to show their legitimacy. There are now virtual notarization services that allow for digital signatures for a large number of legal documents

Digital Assets 

One of the most important and obvious trends in estate planning is the abundance of digital assets. Digital assets encompass a huge array of categories with varying degrees of monetary or emotional significance. Cryptocurrency and NFTs have become a new norm in estate planning. Similar to a stock portfolio, these assets typically have an ebb and flow to their value, which requires near-constant considerations for estate planning. One day your cryptocurrency investment can provide a comfortable nest egg for your beneficiaries, and then the next day completely loses its value.

A commonly overlooked digital asset includes some of our most precious memories and access to our most private lives. A modern estate plan now needs to take digital assets like photos, videos, and even social media accounts into consideration. Many subscription services use automatic payment systems to process orders each month, meaning that even canceling premium streaming services may also need to be in your estate plan. The executor of your estate will likely need account access information like email and passwords to prevent unwanted automatic payments to continue debiting your bank accounts.

It’s not easy keeping up with so many changes in the world, but a dedicated legal team can help make sense of your seemingly expanding list of responsibilities. If you want to update your estate plan or establish one from scratch, call White Oak Wills and Trusts at (503) 928-8664 or fill out a contact form on our website.

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