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Creating a digitally secure estate administration

Digital estate planning is on the rise, and there are a number of applications available for those in Tennessee who are interested in creating and storing their estate plans online. At the same time, the media is full of stories of digital piracy, where personal information is stolen, bought and sold in the pursuit of identity theft and other crimes. Many people are wary of putting their personal planning documents in a digital format in a way that both protects their interests and also makes estate administration easier when the time comes to make use of those plans.

One thing to remember when creating an estate planning package that will be stored online is that many types of sensitive information do not need to be included in order for the plan to be successful. For example, there is no need to include credit card information in estate planning documents. If there is an account that has a balance, the credit card issuer is not going to play the role of wallflower. The family will quickly receive notices that will include a breakdown of the balance and any fees associated with the account. A simple list of the issuing party of open credit cards will suffice.

When it comes to bank accounts, a similar approach should be taken. It is enough to list the bank's name and perhaps the type of account. When the designated beneficiary approaches the bank, he or she will only have to provide identification to access the accounts. The account number is not required.

It is also possible to take a blended approach to estate administration. Some information can be stored in an online format, and other, more sensitive information can be kept in paper form and left with the Tennessee attorney handling the estate or with a trusted family member. This may be the best of both worlds, at least until digital estate planning has become so mainstream that there are robust security measures in place across the board.  

Source:, "Cybersecure Your Clients' Estate Planning Experience", Scott Huff, June 17, 2016

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