chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
November 17, 2023 4 minutes to read ∙ 1000 words

Ask Techie: How Can I Help My Friends and Family with Their Digital Estate Planning?

Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly Q&A column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.

This month, we answer readers’ questions about how to help your friends and family with their digital estate planning and how Microsoft’s Copilot Artificial Intelligence Assistant can help you manage your law firm.

Q: How Can I Help My Friends and Family with Their Digital Estate Planning?

Though I’m no expert, my friends and family think of me as a “techie.” If, perish the thought, one of them were to die suddenly, the survivors could turn to me for help retrieving photos and vital records. What can I do now to minimize the potential problems for them and me?

A: It is all too common for families to be overly burdened with trying to wind up the affairs of a deceased loved one. Sooner rather than later, help them prepare in advance. Assist them with these steps to ease the process..

  1. List on paper their usernames (often their email address), passwords, and two-factor identification method (also known as 2FA, frequently a cell phone number to which a one-time code will be sent) for each email account, financial account, computer, membership, and social media.
  2. Confirm that sensitive online personal and financial information is secured by strong passwords and 2FA.
  3. For each account that has 2FA, include recovery codes and methods in the list.
  4. Add to the list any unlock codes and emergency access methods for their phones and devices.
  5. Put paper copies of this list in two secure places, one at home and one elsewhere, such as a safe deposit box. Consider limiting who in the family has access to the secured lists.
  6. If they are savvy enough to have a password manager, list the location, username, password, and 2FA method for their password manager.
  7. For accounts with Google, Apple, and Microsoft, help them set up:
    1. Google Inactive Account Management
    2. Apple Legacy Contact
    3. Microsoft Account Recovery Code
  8. Ensure that they have two backups of important photos, videos, and records—at least one backup at home on an external drive or DVD discs and one backup in the cloud or on a drive in a safe deposit box or encrypted at a friend’s house.

In the process of digital estate planning, each person needs to strike a balance. They need to protect their sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands of both outsiders and insiders, and they need to ensure that the right people have access after death.

It’s hard enough to lose a relative or friend. Taking a few important precautions can simplify the necessary work for survivors who handle the winding up of a decedent’s digital life.

Techie: Wells H. Anderson, JD, GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor and CEO of SecureMyFirm, 952/922-1120,—we protect small firms from cyber threats with affordable, multiple layers of defense.

Q: I’ve Heard about Microsoft’s Copilot Artificial Intelligence Assistant, but Can It Really Help Law Firms?

A: Microsoft Copilot is an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant introduced by Microsoft on March 16, 2023. It is designed to enhance productivity and collaboration in the workplace by leveraging the advanced capabilities of OpenAI’s technology in your web browser and Office applications. It is integrated into Microsoft 365 applications and services, the Microsoft Edge web browser, and Windows 11. Microsoft Copilot offers a range of features and capabilities that aim to assist users in their daily work tasks. Some notable aspects include:

  1. Collaboration. Copilot helps you collaborate more effectively with your colleagues. It works seamlessly with Microsoft 365 Chat, a new AI assistant, enabling you to communicate, share files, and work together effortlessly. For example, if you are drafting a document in Word, Copilot can understand the context and content of your document and provides intelligent suggestions, helping you write more effectively.
  2. Enhanced Productivity. With Copilot, you can automate repetitive tasks, such as document review, contract analysis, and legal research. Copilot can assist in comparing legal documents, such as contracts or versions of statutes, to identify differences, similarities, or changes between them. This can be helpful for contract review, tracking amendments, or analyzing legal revisions. This allows you to focus on more complex and strategic aspects of your work, boosting your overall productivity.
  3. Natural Language Processing. Copilot utilizes advanced natural language processing capabilities to understand and interpret your queries and requests. It can provide relevant information, answer questions, and offer intelligent insights based on the context of your work.

Microsoft 365 Copilot was announced to be generally available for enterprise customers on November 1, 2023, which is a deceptive way of saying it is generally available but not to everyone. Hopefully, it will be available to those of us with fewer than 300 users in the very near future. It is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of tools and services, which requires a subscription. As proprietary software developed by Microsoft, Copilot is subject to the terms and conditions of the Microsoft 365 license agreement.

Microsoft Copilot is an exciting addition to the world of AI assistants, specifically tailored for the workplace. With its intelligent features and seamless integration with Microsoft 365 applications, Copilot aims to enhance collaboration, boost productivity, and provide valuable assistance to users in their daily work tasks. Whether it’s writing, editing, summarizing, or automating repetitive tasks, Copilot is designed to be your reliable AI companion for work, helping you achieve more with less effort.

Techie: Ashley Hallene, JD, GPSolo eReport Editor-in-Chief ([email protected]).

What’s YOUR question?

If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin ([email protected]) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, and Matthew Murrell. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.

Please send in your questions today!

Download the PDF of this issue

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 13, Number 4, November 2023. © 2023 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.