Astounding layers of security and convenience surround passwords, photos, and documents stored on devices like our phones. Digital documentation has been the gold standard for general storage of important data for years now. In the modern home, binders of wedding photos and copies of expense reports are on their way out, if they aren’t gone already. The power of digitized documentation has surely enhanced every aspect of our lives, right?
Surprisingly not. Let’s compare two documents you likely possess: A gift card and birth certificate. The value of the card can be transferred seamlessly to others, and its balance can be checked at any point. You can often transfer its contents to an app or website using your phone. There is instant peace of mind knowing that the physical form of the card isn’t necessary to use it for whatever purpose you desire. But the birth certificate? It’s perfectly static in a dusty part of your basement, most likely. Or better yet, in the freezer, where legal estate planners often advise their clients to put it. That way, a house fire won’t be able to destroy it.
Common sense would tell us that we can do better. Legal documents are not just milestones on our life journey. They are essential tools that must be updatable, accessible, and understandable. In the technological age we are currently enjoying, someone surely should have invented an app for that by now.
Experiences of those who mismanage their legal documents, or worse yet, completely lose them, tell us that we must do better. “Lawyers understand this need for organizing documents”, says Larry Bridgesmith, JD. As an expert on legal efficiency management, Larry knows “estate and beneficiaries all need to be taken care of.” This management needs continuous updating as we age, because when unforeseen circumstances force us to act, we are stuck with whatever version our legal documents are stored. “These documents are generationally agnostic,” Larry explains. “There is no age we reach at which organization of legal documentation becomes a non-issue. Sharing documents and storing documents doesn’t have a generation end date.”
Disconnect and Frustration
Gaps in management are particularly frustrating when interacting with legal documents on the behalf of others. Estate planners continually see this struggle play out amongst their clients. Julie Ratner, a Denver real estate attorney, is familiar with the need for efficiency and clarity when managing client documents in a family setting. Rocket Matter is the main legal platform for uploading and transferring legal documents, which can be a source of frustration for legal advisors like Julie since the process is “not very user friendly.” Julie notices that a lot of [her] clients that are older get very frustrated with the file transfer process, much to the dismay of their family members who want to help but aren’t quite sure how to do so. Complications like these throw a wrench into proper family management of legal files. And when families finally throw up their hands and decide that they need professional help from someone like Julie, they often “download their documents off LegalZoom, and they’re all horrible to decipher.” Concerned individuals often feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, not knowing whether to spend the money for a legal professional to assist with their family’s files (like an estate planner) or do their legal planning themselves. This choice can be a paralyzing one, especially for young families. Consequentially, USNEWS.com reports that “about 3 in 4 married couples with minor children lack a legal document that names a guardian for their children.” People need a more efficient support structure to handle the files most important to their lives.
Keeping With The Times
Julie’s most troubling observation about her own clients is not that they don’t take their own legal documents seriously. Rather, the tendency of people to tell themselves “I’ll get those documents done when I need them” is the real danger. She stresses that “when you need them, it’s already too late.” Organization needs to be a proactive process. We can’t simply settle for picking up the pieces after or our loves ones undergo a major life transition. So, what can we do about it?
This question is what drives LifeFilez to do what we do. With the jungle of legal obligations that society places upon the average American, it’s no wonder people need help. With our personal documents, personal empowerment and peace of mind are in short supply.
That’s what we plan to change.