Directing the Digital EstateBy: Amos P. Eno
Directive Communication Systems is bringing the process of estate planning into the digital world.
It’s sometimes said that great ideas can come from tragedy, and so it was with the creation of Directive Communication Systems (DCS). A few years ago, Lee Poskanzer, DCS’s founder and CEO, experienced the tragic loss of a friend who suddenly passed away at the age of 44, leaving behind a wife and two children. Then, a mere two months later, Poskanzer received a notification on LinkedIn asking him if he wanted to congratulate this same friend on 20 years of volunteer ski instruction at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. The notification stopped Poskanzer mid-conversation. All he could think about was how his late friend’s family, with emotions still raw, would react to such news.
As a result, he embarked on a mission to discover how to prevent this situation from recurring. After researching with estate attorneys, accountants and financial planners, he found that the problem extended beyond insensitive posts on social media. “The attorneys I spoke with were trying to implement strategies that worked in the past,” said Poskanzer, but with so much information being stored digitally those strategies no longer work.
After doing this research, Poskanzer found that often people didn’t realize how many digital accounts they had, which of those were worth adding to their estate, and that the estate and loved ones who would be responsible for managing these accounts knew less about these accounts or where to find them. Poskanzer said that, for example, “we’ve had an attorney sit down with his client and he said to the client, ‘Oh come on, how many accounts do you have?’, and in less than two minutes she had rattled off 82 accounts that needed some type of addressing.”
Some of these accounts are less obvious than others, and the service DCS provides works with the client and their attorney to identify for the client everything from online financial accounts, and the email addresses to which their statements are sent, recurring payment accounts such as for music and video streaming of some charitable giving, or airline or hotel loyalty programs, to less obvious things like a Drop Box account that may have a script, poetry, music, or even images the client believes are valuable. Poskanzer emphasized that DCS does all of this without taking passwords or other security information such as a credit card number or CCV.
The bottom line is, “by making those accounts transparent and clear, along with the directives for those accounts, we’re actually able to facilitate the entire estate process,” said Poskanzer.
So what, specifically, does this have to do with private landowners? There’s still a stereotype among some of the urban population of farmers and ranchers being behind the times, but in reality these working landowners are using sophisticated digital tools to monitor the health of their land and maximize their operations’ efficiency, as well as accounts holding contracts and other agreements of which loved ones and the estate may not be aware. With DCS, landowners and their attorney can create an estate that allows for the operation of their working lands to transition smoothly to the next generation.
Since the New Year, my father, RFF President Amos S. Eno, has brought DCS to his attorney’s attention, who after review determined it was a valuable service and signed him up as a client with DCS.
In an effort to keep this blog (relatively) short, much of our discussion didn't make it onto this page. If you want to learn more about DCS, I encourage you to visit their website, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org where I'm happy to share more of our discussion.