Where should you store your sensitive legal documents?

Documents on fire

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The trouble with physical files

Jennifer Dean, Esq. recently wrote a nice piece for the CEB Trust & Estates blog “Lessons from Finding Wills in the Couch Cushions”. In part, she observes that modern estate plans contain multiple documents, often becoming bulky. A single client typically has a trust, will, power of attorney, and more, with the volume doubling for married couples. Additional documents and traditional binders add to the bulk. Some professionals use envelopes instead of binders, while others keep the originals. After planning, professionals hand over these documents meant to last a lifetime. Yet, many clients mishandle or lose them, with some even storing them in unusual places, like couches. Despite advice, poor storage habits persist, and safe deposit boxes may be inaccessible. Educating clients on document storage is essential for effective estate planning, she says. She continues to make some recommendations on how lawyers can help to make binders less bulky and more user-friendly.

Is the thumb drive or USB stick a good idea?

Coming back to what clients can do themselves, Ms. Dean counsels clients against using the cloud for electronic storage and seems to advocate for USB thumb drives. This is where I must disagree. If physical file folders get lost, USB sticks are notorious for not ‘sticking around’. Thumb drive loss is such a widespread problem that they are outlawed in most corporate environments.

In my opinion, if you do not want to be connected to the scary internet, and not misplace or lose your most important documents, the best solution is still a safe deposit box at a bank. According to Bankrate, they cost between $15 – $150. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer banks offer them, and branch banks close at an accelerating rate. Some banks and third parties offer Digital Safe Deposit Boxes, however, often these are only rebranded or repackaged from other, potentially less expensive providers.

Encrypted Cloud Storage is safe

On balance, I believe that safe cloud storage is the best option at a time when wildfires and other natural catastrophes make our at-home physical storage increasingly less dependable.

Here are some safe cloud storage providers to consider:


– Overview: Tresorit is an encrypted cloud storage service that places a strong emphasis on enhanced security and data protection.

– Features:

– End-to-End Encryption: Your data is encrypted before it leaves your device and remains encrypted until it reaches the intended recipient.

– Zero-Knowledge: Tresorit has a zero-knowledge policy, meaning the company itself cannot access the content of your files.

– Secure Link Sharing: You can share encrypted links to specific files or folders, and set expiration dates or download limits.

– Multi-Device Access: Tresorit is accessible across various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and desktops.

pCloud Crypto:

– Overview: pCloud offers a unique feature called “Crypto,” which provides client-side encryption for your files.

– Features:

– Client-Side Encryption: pCloud Crypto ensures that your files are encrypted on your device before they are uploaded.

– Secure File Sharing: Share your encrypted files with trusted contacts.

– Extended File History: pCloud keeps a history of your file changes for up to 30 days.

– Multi-Platform Support: Access your encrypted files across multiple devices.


-Overview: Developed by the team behind NordVPN, NordLocker is a file encryption tool that prioritizes security and user privacy.


– Drag-and-Drop Encryption: Easily encrypt files and folders.

– Secure Cloud Storage: Encrypt files in the cloud before they leave your device.

– Zero-Knowledge Architecture: NordLocker doesn’t have access to your passwords or the data within your encrypted files.

– Multi-Platform Support: Available for both Windows and macOS.

Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive:

– Overview: While these are more mainstream cloud storage platforms, they have made significant advancements in security protocols over the years.

– Features:

– Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Add an extra layer of security by requiring two methods to verify your identity.

– Encryption: Data is encrypted both in transit and at rest.

– Collaboration Tools: Securely collaborate on documents in real-time with trusted contacts.

– Access Control: Set permissions to determine who can view, edit, or comment on your documents.

In conclusion, as cyber threats continue to evolve, it’s paramount to choose a cloud storage provider that prioritizes the security of your data. These platforms offer a range of features to ensure that your files remain protected and accessible only to authorized individuals.

2023 Trends – Most Californians need estate planning




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