Wills, Estate Planning, and Technology

March 22, 2019

Chester County Wills and Estates Lawyers discuss the use of technology while establishing wills and other estate planning needs. More and more, our lives revolve around technology. Increasingly, that includes end of life issues, such as creating a will and estate planning. While technology is a valuable tool in many areas of life, it also contains inherent risks.

What was cutting edge technology a decade ago – like flip phones – is ancient now. That means even accessing the technology used to develop a will or trust may not be possible when a person passes.

While there is a place in estate planning for technology, that does not necessarily mean it is time to give up on wills and estate plans written on paper.

The Pitfalls of DIY Online Estate Planning

Some people are choosing to write wills and create living trust and estate plans using the DIY templates available on the internet. While you might save a little money in the short run, in the long run the use of these forms could cost your heirs considerably.

An estate planning lawyer will draft documents customized for the client’s needs, whereas the “trust mills” have a one-size-fits-all approach that may not prove legal when the grantor dies.

Those in favor of using online estate planning rather than a lawyer claim it is easier to update online documents such as wills or living trusts when life changes occur. There is some accuracy in that, but just because you can replace a beneficiary with a few keystrokes does not mean relying solely on technology is a wise idea.

Those using DIY forms for estate planning are not receiving legal advice and could make serious mistakes that a lawyer would have pointed out to them. For example, a person may decide to update a will and change the beneficiary to a retirement account, but they did not change the beneficiary on the retirement account itself.

As such, the person listed on the retirement account will inherit, not the person named in the will, something an attorney would have told the person changing their will to address.

Digital Assets

People concentrate on leaving their physical assets to their heirs, whether that is real estate, stocks and bonds, art, jewelry, or the like. However, it is also important to make plans for your digital assets, the information on your various devices, and email and social media accounts.

Digital assets also include Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency, funds held in PayPal, and similar accounts. The digital assets can pass via a will, but not email and social media accounts for which you have a license but not true ownership. What you must do, however, is provide information and log-in instructions so your executor can access these accounts once you are gone.

Your estate plan must address any digital assets, including any need for a financial power of attorney.

Chester County Wills and Estates Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Advise Clients on Every Aspect of Estate Planning

The experienced Chester County wills and estates lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews and Auslander, P.C. help clients with every aspect of your estate planning needs. Contact us today at 610-565-3701 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.