All companies are vulnerable to a hack or business failure, but Hopkins said with start-ups that risk can be even higher. That may be a given in the world of Silicon Valley, but it should compel more due diligence when the start-up service is being used to store sensitive documents.
According to start-up tracker Crunchbase, Estate Assist was founded in 2014. Everplans was founded in 2012 and AfterSteps in 2010. Launch dates of the services, though, can be years later — Everplans launched its service in 2014, for example.
Experts also warn consumers that they still need to consult an attorney, since laws vary from state to state.
Paper wills, for example, must also still be filed away, since only a few states, such as Delaware and Nevada, honor digital ones, Isdale said. And court precedents governing digital wills are few and far between. A few years ago an Ohio court judge ruled that a will that was written and signed on a tablet computer was legal. But rules and guidelines are still being hammered out in many states, Isdale said.
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Some of these hiccups may become known too late because those who are attracted to the digital archive approach in the first place tend to be "do-it-yourself" kind of people.
"A lot of do-it-yourselfers aren't consulting attorneys," Hopkins said. In addition to the more complicated legal issues, attorneys are more likely to stay on top of the basics, like updating documents stored online with important new information.
Isdale said if the most recent copy of a legal document isn't uploaded, it could be contested. "You have to stay on top of these digital documents," she said.