My wife and I recently updated our wills. As part of this process, we found ourselves gathering information and documentation from various places – safety deposit boxes at different banks, hard copies of our taxes that we keep in a filing cabinet, and statements from online accounts, to name a few.
We called our kids and told them the name of our lawyer, who they can contact if they have any questions, should anything happen to us.
But they were more concerned with the near future. Our two oldest children live out of state and wanted to know what would happen if we were both in a car accident. What if someone had to make decisions about our medical care? How would they get into our house if they had to come into town and we’d left the alarm system armed?
We quickly realized that the things that mattered most to us and to our families weren’t all about our estate – it was about the things we needed to share to help each other navigate the unexpected and the stuff that makes up everyday life.
There are certainly documents that our children should know about, but what about all the other stuff? The code to the alarm system, the name of our accountant, the recipe for grandma’s cranberry sauce that makes Thanksgiving feel official.
Digital was supposed to make things easier, but the reality for most people today – even those who rely heavily on digital storage – is that managing information has become more chaotic and fragmented. Even if you have some digital solutions in place, you probably also have lots of paper documents – and also lots of information and knowledge and physical stuff that isn’t accounted for in any digital space.
It’s almost impossible to manage all of this, never mind easily transfer the knowledge required to manage it to someone else. Or at least, it was. That’s why we decided to build Prisidio.
What Matters Most: How to Start Sorting Your Things
When the Prisidio team started to think about what matters to us and what other people might need help sharing in perpetuity, we came up with four categories to sort our stuff: people, places, documents, and things.
Grammar-minded folks may notice that “documents” also fall into the “things” bucket, but in the context of sharing sensitive information, we believe that documents deserve to be a category of its own, especially given the complexity of permissions and access often involved with sharing financial documents.
In order to create a secure digital vault that helps you get and stay organized, you need to be able to give the right people access to the elements they need, when they need them. You need to know where all essential documents, heirlooms, and information are located. And when it comes to your legacy, you do need to ensure that the location of physical items is clearly recorded.
To make the process of sorting your things simple, we built a fully functional mobile app that works as well as the online platform. Whether you’re sorting through the furniture in your storage unit or sitting at the computer in your office, you can manage all four categories in one place.
The Pros and Cons of Digital Storage Solutions Today
Most digital storage software today isn’t much better than a traditional bank vault when it comes to locating and sharing critical documents, evaluated against three criteria:
- Privacy. The other digital storage tools out there may be private, but the measures in place may not be mobile friendly or easy to navigate for stakeholders like your REALTOR® or Financial Advisor.
- Security. If your digital vault doesn’t take at least as many security measures as your online banking platform, you might as well be storing your documents in Google Drive.
- Sharing. Too many digital vaults are designed exclusively for the use of the vault’s owner. This makes it difficult for others who have permission to access it to know what is located inside that black box.
Of course, if you’re interested in using a digital vault, odds are you’re looking for a way to make at least some of your documents more private – anyone who has a printed copy of a cryptocurrency key in their possession knows this feeling well. Our challenge was to design a platform that provides the privacy and security users need, while delivering a truly user-friendly experience to a variety of stakeholders.
A Better Model for Document Storage, Sharing, and Access Exists
If you’ve bought or sold property through a real estate brokerage in the past 15 years, you’ve probably already used a secure digital document platform. In fact, you may have used one our team helped design, as many of the folks on our team helped design and build Cartavi, which was acquired by DocuSign in 2013.
This experience showed us that it is possible for complex contracts that require multiple documents and signatures to be digitized and securely shared between parties. It also proved that even folks who are used to working with legacy systems that traditionally rely heavily on paper are willing and able to make a shift to digital.
Why? Because the new digital model is more secure and convenient and it benefits them greatly.
From digital financial statements to a PDF of the certificate of authenticity that came with last month’s anniversary present, you already rely on digital documents to capture the value of your assets, online and in the physical world.
But you probably don’t yet have a way to securely store and share that information. That’s why we decided to apply the lessons we learned in the real estate document security space to, well, the rest of life.