Once you have your estate documents created, what do you do with them? Many individuals decide to store these legally binding documents in an online dropbox instead of in a safety deposit box or a file folder in a safe in their home.
Storing your estate planning documents in a digital inbox may prove to be a bad idea. There are several reasons why this is the case.
Electronic storage isn’t always safe
Not all digital dropboxes are secure. Many of the free dropboxes that exist don’t provide very strong assurances that the information you store in them will be kept safe. Some of the paid consumer ones provide an extra layer of encryption, but you could still end up with an account that’s “hacked” by a bad actor. You must keep in mind that hackers are always at work trying to get their hands on privileged information, and it’s unlikely that any digital storage is completely inaccessible.
Estate planning documents, such as health care directives, contain your personal medical preferences. A signed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may accompany your health care power of attorney, giving anyone access to your medical records, thus violating your privacy. While you can find a digital dropbox that’s HIPAA-compliant, they’re few and far between.
Many testators also create a listing of logins and passwords to make it easier for their power of attorney or their executor to carry out their duties when the time comes. A hacker could gain access to this information if you didn’t use a properly encrypted digital inbox, leaving you financially vulnerable.
How to best save your estate planning documents
Nothing compares to storing your estate planning documents in a safe, tangible format somewhere in your home, with an attorney or in another safe location. Talking things over with an experienced advocate may help you decide where best to keep these all-important papers.