The pros and cons of digital wills

It is not uncommon for a Missouri resident to die without the surviving family members knowing if the decedent left a will or, if so, where it is located. People may place wills and other important estate planning documents in a safe or a safety deposit box in a bank, but if no one is aware or remembers where these documents are, it can cause major headaches when it comes to sorting out someone’s assets.

To respond to these issues, several startup companies have begun offering online will storage, or digital wills. The advantage of these services is that people always know that their will is safe, so a fire or flood will not destroy their paperwork. Additionally, so long as a family member is aware there is a digital will, it can be easily retrieved.

However, digital wills are not perfect. Since they are stored on the Internet, the services that hang on to them are potentially vulnerable to being hacked or having a data failure. Many startup companies offering these services have also either gone out of business or sold their interests to other companies, in some cases leaving people with just 30 days to arrange for their will. People may also assume that they do not need a lawyer with a digital will, but this is not advisable.

A will, while important, is just one aspect of a comprehensive estate plan. People may also need trusts, powers of attorney or health care proxies. Further, these documents need to stay up to date to be able to be useful. A estate planning attorney can review a client’s circumstances and suggest the types of documents that are appropriate.

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