Directive Communication Systems (DCS) is a notification and distribution service for estate administrators that provides comprehensive personal digital account and digital asset organization and management.
Estate planners may enroll their clients in the DCS protected database. The data for online digital accounts and assets is then entered into the system through manual entry, a system process of annual update and by means of an app that performs automatic capture and addition of data to the account portfolio. During probate administration, DCS notifies account institutions (with the estate’s legal authorization) and executes the prescribed course of action for each account. DCS process also helps to prevent ID theft and fraud.
Digital accounts and assets are growing rapidly, however, as of this date, only Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Virginia have enacted legislation dealing with fiduciary access to digital assets. The Uniform Law Commission Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Access Act (UFADAA) has been introduced in 23 States, with similar legislation enacted in Delaware. Under the UFADAA, the fiduciary has the same authority as the decedent over personal digital accounts and is empowered to access, manage, distribute, copy or delete digital assets and accounts.
Hopkins, “Review of Viable Solutions to the Digital Estate Planning Dilemma,” 99 Iowa L. Rev. Bul. 61 (2014) discusses the need for planning for digital assets; stressing that the plan should include a clause in the dispositive document authorizing the fiduciary to act regarding digital assets, including those on external storage devices (with suggested language), urging discussion with clients of the need to identify and list digital assets (including sharing the list with the planner) and suggesting designation of what digital information to destroy. Why Digital Estate Planning is About More Than the Facebook Photos (Olsen, Treager & Urserey, LLP) discusses the business aspect of digital accounts and the need plan by compiling a list of their online accounts and passwords and keeping the list in a secure place.
Failure to plan for digital accounts places additional stress on survivors and adds to the work of the probate process.
What’s It All About?
The existence of digital accounts and assets owned by a decedent necessitates manual notification of the supplier of the account or holder of the asset. These needs result in estate costs, delays in estate administration and increased risk of ID fraud. Estate administrators must notify the institutions involved of a person’s passing and request specific activities to close or redirect digital accounts. The presence of digital accounts and assets in an estate adds significant complexity and confusion to estate administration.
DCS furnishes a solution for distributing initial procedural communications to digital and non-digital account holding institutions. Clients may list digital items with DCS, create directives for handling them in their estates and list the DCS access to digital items in their estate documents.
DCS allows an attorney to create a hierarchy of associates with permissions for data entry manipulation and observation, as well as to designate to whom each reports. It also permits listing of agents associated with clients and other firm offices, and provides for identification of consultants.
DCS furnishes the tools necessary for practitioners, and their clients, to organize, collect and manage personal account portfolios. DCS then handles the distribution of those accounts according to the desires of the decedent and the protocols of each institution.
How it Works
After signing in the first screen that appears you see the list of Clients from which you may select an existing client or add a new one. Clients can be added by entering their details on a popup screen. On this screen you may also edit the profile of your firm and edit the team that’s to use DCS. A separate popup screen allows you to enter Estate Document Information. You may designate the structure of payment, for example, whether startup fees and annual fees are paid by the firm or the client.
The next screen allows you to enter the Estate Relationships of the client (such as personal representative) and various Professional and personal relationships of the client (such as relatives and financial advisors). You then designate the digital accounts you want to be processed by DCS on a popup Edit Account screen by entering the Nickname and Description of the account, the Account Holder Name, User Name, Account Email, Account Link and Account Directive for action during estate administration (Close, Remove Name, Transfer and Memorialize). The system can be set up for the client to enter information without being able to alter estate relationships or otherwise direct the system. DCS furnishes an app that will copy data related to a digital account to the DCS system, which the client may then verify.
A screen displays all accounts for a given client and provides convenient access to managing each account.
The existence of DCS is noted in a client’s dispositive documents with a passcode whereby the Personal Representative may direct disposition of each listed digital item.
DCS displays a screen with All Clients listed, All Agents and all Locations. The firm administrator has access to a Reports screen that displays all clients, agents, fee structure and payments. Another screen lists all the client’s digital accounts and allows quick access for managing the DCS processing of each account. The digital accounts are listed by institution or entity furnishing the account and multiple accounts may be identified for each institution, including noncash accounts, such as digital storage.
Reports include a columnar display of client names with related, agents, signup dates, setup fees, annual fees and who pays said fees.
The result is that the client has an organized and centralized list of all digital accounts and assets and the client’s estate has the ability to efficiently direct the disposition of each digital item.
What About Help and Support?
Each screen has a “help” reference at the top of the screen and context sensitive help is available where a small “i” appears next to a prompt.
Support is also furnished by email or phone.
Where Do You Get This Facility?
DCS is available from Directive Communications Systems at:
Phone: 800 372 8121
Email: [email protected] or use the email form at http://www.directivecommunications.com/contact.shtml
A fee of $175 per client for enrollment and a $50 annual fee per client for security and maintenance. The cost may be absorbed by the firm, passed on to the client or paid directly by the client.
DCS provides an efficient and indispensable tool for assembling, storing, managing and administering digital accounts and assets in the estate administration context.
Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley—a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.
Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson – West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at [email protected].