Estate Planning – Have You Considered Your Digital Assets?

Today, I was reminded by Facebook that I had been friends with a colleague for seven years. What Facebook didn’t seem to know is that he had been gone for about three years. Interestingly, this week also saw the publication of the latest issue of The Philadelphia Lawyer, in which I write the Technology and the Ethics columns, and this colleague was mentioned in my Tech column, “Digital Estate Management – Your Clients May Be Dead, But Their Facebook Accounts Live On.”

At the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, we focus on our clients by doing things a little different, but with the goal of providing cutting edge client services in an affordable manner. Our estate planning services are a great example, as highlighted by this Technology Column in The Philadelphia Lawyer, which is published by the Philadelphia Bar Association. The article addresses one such area – dealing with your electronic, Internet, and online assets when you or a loved one is no longer with us – and it highlights how we do things a bit differently. We understand that estate planning can be stressful, but we try to take some of the stress away with our “Pay Once, Revise for Life Estate Planning Program,” and our comprehensive interview. But most importantly, we focus on drafting documents that meet our clients’ needs.

Most of our clients need a Will, a Living Will (also called an “Advanced Healthcare Directive”) and a Power of Attorney. Our non-traditional family clients may need Hospital Visitation forms and an Authorization that permits a non-related loved one to handle your remains.

As stated above, we focus on today’s lifestyle issues. We are one of the very few law firms that considers and advises clients about disposition of their digital assets, and will address whether you need a Digital Executor – a person who understands and can assure that all of your electronic information is finalized. The bottom line is that while we all should deal with our inevitable futures, estate planning today is different from estate planning just a few years ago. We need to address digital assets, such as computers, websites, and social media. What happens to your Amazon account? Or what should happen to your Facebook page? Do you really want reminders of your “friendship” going out years after you are gone. And how about your Dropbox account, your email, and all of those other things that go along with our mobile economy? That is digital estate planning, we do it, and we help clients recognize the need for digital executors, a term many lawyers have never heard.

Finally, no one wants to pay a lawyer. We understand. We don’t want the pressure of fees to prevent clients from planning for the future. With our “Pay Once, Revise for Life Estate Planning Program,” clients only pay a fee once – when clients initially draft and sign their estate planning documents. We never charge for revisions, so clients feel comfortable calling us to make changes at any time, and know that the meter won’t be running. Last week, one of our clients was having surgery and wanted to change his Will, for the sixth time, and we handled the revisions the same day.

We know of no other law firm that has a similar focus on clients’ peace of mind. Read my article, and perhaps you can understand why one colleague – a business law professor – thought it was satire. But for those of us who recognize the realities of a 21st century lifestyle, they are not laughing. They are looking for, and hiring, a law firm that understands their lives, their needs and their goals.

 

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