February 7, 2013

T3 Conference: Estate Planning for Digital Assets to Take Center Stage

Opting out of paper statements is good for the environment, bad for estate planning

Here’s an issue too many advisors have yet to consider: What if a client’s important information is all online and password protected? What happens if they die unexpectedly?

It’s an issue of critical importance, and one that will be thoroughly vetted at the 2013 T3 Conference (Technology Tools for Today) in Miami beginning on Monday and running through Wednesday.

“The estate planning for digital assets focus is the first of its kind at a conference like this,” says Joel Bruckenstein, one of the conference organizers, along with David Drucker. “It could be online files, pictures, emails or anything in a digital vault. What happens if the deceased had opted out of paper statements and passwords are needed to access everything on the cloud?”

Bruckenstein adds there’s very little state and contractual law yet in place to address the issue, and what is available is “conflicting.”

The eighth annual technology conference for independent broker-dealers and their affiliated advisors will also focus on what he refers to as core subjects: customer relationship management (CRM) software, financial planning software and rebalancing software or “all that advisors care about on an ongoing basis.”

“I can’t say too much about product announcements other than there should be a record amount,” he adds. “The preconference lineup on Monday will give attendees, which number at about 600, a chance to view individual products more in-depth.”

Other items of interest that are gaining traction industrywide include IT security, a panel about which Bruckenstein will moderate, and electronic signatures.

As for social media, Bruckenstein is surprisingly sedate given the prominence it’s received at other conferences recently.

“Social media is an ongoing trend,” he says. "A lot of the conference sessions at various shows early on I felt were a little misleading. You’re not going to start using it and suddenly see new business. But I think it’s maturing, and advisors will have ample opportunity to take it to the next level.”

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