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What risks are there in storing your estate planning documents in an online dropbox?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2021 | Estate Planning

If you have a will and other estate planning documents already in place, then you’re one step ahead of most Americans. Many individuals think that they’re not wealthy or old enough to need an estate plan. That’s not the case, though. Estate planning is appropriate no matter what stage of life you’re in. Just make sure to update your estate plan at every new stage in life that warrants it.

It may be tempting to store your estate plan documents in an online dropbox like many of your other documents. There are some valid reasons why it’s best not to do that.

Data security issues with online dropboxes

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the security specifications for the online dropbox you’re planning to store your estate planning documents in before you make a final decision or upload anything to it.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of your health care information. Your health care proxy and living will may contain private medical information that you likely want to end up in unintended hands. This might occur unless you ensure that the online dropbox you’re using is HIPAA compliant.

You may also want to inquire about how well the dropbox encrypts data. Many testators maintain a listing of account numbers, online logins and other sensitive data for executors to access. You leave yourself vulnerable to having a hacker access this information unless you use an online dropbox with a solid encryption program in place.

Tips for using online services in Virginia

Virginia’s Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act may require you to designate a fiduciary to lawfully access any online dropbox you have. You will want to specify what the limits to their access are when doing so.

The Commonwealth of Virginia also has the Advance Health Care Directive Registry. This free, online service provides you with an easy way to store legal documents that provide guidance to family and friends should you become incapacitated or no longer able to make your own health care decisions. The documents in this database are accessible to medical care providers and others you designate.

Guidance in navigating the estate planning process

Estate planning may seem confusing if you were under the impression that all it involved was drafting a will. An attorney can go over your estate planning documents to see if you’re missing any critical ones. They can then provide you with sound advice for keeping them safe until they’re needed.