Frequently Asked Questions

Naturally, you’ve got questions…

Our Services

FAS is a company committed to offering a variety of state-of-the-art services to help prepare for, prevent, and address the most important issues facing your family. With a complete understanding of estate and planning issues, FAS’ core product, the National Will Registry, is designed to protect the complete life cycle of your family. Specifically, NWR:

  1. Finds, protects and preserves documents, income, and assets;
  2. Minimizes stress and conflict during times of change or crisis;
  3. Saves family money, assets, digital accounts and memories; and
  4. Helps to carry out personal wishes

A person’s true legacy is in what they leave behind and the way a person is remembered. So often, families are destroyed in times of crisis and memories tarnished.  It can be something as simple as a lost document, assets or worse that can cause a family to crumble. We help to minimize these potential problems by creating certainty and reduced stress/conflict through found documents and assets, clear instructions and  by performing your wishes (sending letters, videos and much more). We give you the last word.

No. Estate planning typically refers to the creation of a will and trusts.  The Registry is an essential component to an effective estate plan by helping to make sure that your documents are found and plan actually happens. We do not create your plan. Instead, we help to make sure that your plan works the way you intend.

As an attorney in the financial industry, I’ve seen countless families experience life-altering difficulties in the wake of a loved one’s passing. Most failures are caused by instances of lost wills and trusts, missing assets, and conflicting documents. It wasn’t until the death of my own father that I truly realized how even close and compatible families can suffer tremendous loss and stress, and how expensive and cruel the process can be when families are ill-prepared or lack the knowledge and detail about a relative’s estate and business affairs. Family Archival Solutions and National Will Registry strives to provide a complete solution to help families avoid these devastating family problems.

It’s not about the saving of a document that is important, but the ability to prove the accuracy of a document that matters. While many courts do not permit or allow challenges to digital documents, they are becoming increasingly important. With the Registry, we time/date stamp digital documents and encourage you to allow us to retain the documents with us to demonstrate that they were in existence in their form as of the date posted. With that said, many courts do not recognize digital documents (pdfs, etc.), or permit challenges to those documents. Digital storage of estate documents is available on all paid levels.

Physical storage is a huge deal. Digital is not enough (it is not legally sufficient for wills and many courts automatically invalidate some or all digital documents).

Did you know that many of the largest law firms in the world do not store your estate documents in fireproof/waterproof storage? Attorneys, CPAs and financial professionals retire and die; and millions of wills and other documents go lost or unclaimed. Home storage is susceptible to even greater loss and damage and runs the additional risk of improper family intervention. Natural and other disasters (including weather, fire, and so on) can destroy entire geographic region’s documents all in one fell swoop. A court could invalidate a physical document simply because it is damaged or misplaced, and even found documents can be intentionally misplaced or manipulated.

We scan and store documents in one of the most secure environments in the world with our storage partner Iron Mountain, and maintain a record of the document and date for assistance in validating the documents. We even prepare affidavits if required to assist in the validation of documents. Whether we are talking about digital or physical storage, we utilizes the most secure storage systems and locations available to help ensure that your documents are truly secure retrieved quickly and easily.

Our services  are state of the art, crafted by specialists in the fields of financial law, estate planning and technical security. We exist to protect and preserve the family and all necessary information without introducing greater risks or liability.

We are the nation’s registry for wills, living wills, trusts, powers of attorney and more. While other services hinge on password storage and facilitating owner access to accounts, we regard this method of estate protection to be a major problem, often a violation of terms of service, and particularly after a death or disability an illegal act and a form of identity theft. Accessing a decedent’s account illegal in some jurisdictions even if you’re a family member. Account sharing is never 100% secure and as stress and conflict increases your loved ones may ultimately find themselves in trouble rather than helping to make their lives easier.

We provide a simple estate road map, offering solutions to all of the most significant problems faced by families and estates, helping to expedite the process and reduce stress and conflict. There really is no alternative.

Even if we were just a place to list your assets and to keep that list secure, we believe there would be valuable to most families. That, however, isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. We know how estate administration works and have carefully tailored our services to provide information in an incredibly helpful way through our own Estate Roadmap, without introducing risks of fraud, theft or other problems. Also, our special wishes services provide you with a peace of mind that is not available anywhere else in the estate planning market.

The Registry provides highly secure digital and physical document storage in facilities that are among the most secure in the world, identity and account verification, event trigger verification services, special wishes records, email delivery and notifications, personal letter delivery, private video messaging, and more.

While sharing your password is easy, the practice can be risky or downright illegal if an account is accessed, particularly in the event of death or disability. Password sharing results in disputes and has been known to tear families apart. Ultimately, account access results in a ‘race-to-the-account’, rather than a sense of structure. Worse, passwords do not help families identify, locate and recover assets, documents and instructions and access to an account after death or disability is generally illegal and capable of challenge, even if done innocently. Password sharing is a shortcut and mask covering incomplete planning, and ultimately many important components of a plan are neglected.

The Registry believes that sharing your password is always a bad idea. With that in mind, the Registry is built to allow shared access to certain information needed to administer personal affairs without exposing the account or resulting in increased risk of identity theft, fraud or misconduct.

Without FAS and the National Will Registry, a person’s wishes would depend entirely on the knowledge and actions of others. It is all too easy for wishes to be forgotten, lost or ignored and inaction is extremely common. Letters may be lost or perhaps personal messages are not written or delivered for any number of reasons. With our unique services, we have built a system designed to ensure that instructions, confidential videos, letters and messages are delivered, e-mails that you draft are sent and received, photos and videos captured, social media sites updated, and much more. We don’t just offer a passive protection of your wishes and legacy; we actually help to preserve them.

Our work is never done! We have some pretty impressive tools in development related to collecting and aggregating your digital assets and we’ll be rolling those out in the near future. Clients will receive new features as they are released at no additional cost (for your particular tier). Our goal is continuous innovation in an effort to offer state-of-the-art value and service.

We are also at the forefront of legislative reform to include proposals for legal change that we believe would make the estate process easier, faster and more comfortable for everyone. With active involvement, we can be on the front lines in making a difference.

And that’s not all… stay tuned.

Payment, Tiers & Support

Yes. It is free for life. While the expanded features of the premium plans are designed to suit all families, the basic registry service is available at no cost for life.

Select your account type and you could be underway in just a couple of minutes. This service is designed to be fast, easy and complete, with an easy to use dashboard, clear instruction and everything you need in one place.

We accept all major credit cards, eCheck and Signature debit cards.

The Registry uses Authorize.net to handle all payment processing, the industry leader when it comes to information security. Neither Family Archival nor the National Will Registry takes possession of any of your payment information.

Of course, and we encourage you to become familiar with all our services so that you can make the best choice for your family’s needs. Start for no cost and upgrade whenever you’d like if the services suit you.

If there is even a single asset is lost, you or your family will likely lose far more than the service could ever cost, possibly hundreds or even thousands of times the cost of your lifetime fee. A single hour of an attorney’s time saved will recover more than the entire cost of a Premium Account. While the benefits of peace of mind and reduced stress are priceless, even a single conflict can be extraordinarily expensive and destroy an entire family. We believe that the use of our services will most certainly provide savings far in excess of the cost of the service.

As a lifetime account owner, you are free to maintain your account for the duration of your life. How you choose to use our service is entirely up to you.

As professionals in this field, we know what can happen in the event of advanced age and disability. We know that our greatest value to you could be when you are unable to help yourself. We’ll be there for you when you need us no matter what.

We hope that the service, screenshots and FAQs help you to gauge whether the Registry is right for you. With our reports available instantly after population of basic data, we generally do not provide refunds. Nevertheless, we would encourage you to contact us if there are special circumstances.

We intend to be here forever. However, with that said, we have built a process to ensure that all information, estate reports, documents and so forth will be preserved and protected until they are safely back in your or your family’s hands.

The estate planning industry is broken, resulting in billions of dollars lost to families and individuals each year as documents, instructions, assets and insurance policies are lost/unclaimed, documents not completed, lost or modified, and countless other problems faced by families. We were founded to make a difference in people’s lives, and we believe that the more people who use our secure and reliable services, the more likely we are to modernize an archaic estate administration process. In a world of subscription fees, we want to avoid the hindrance that a recurring fee structure might pose to an individual (or family, particularly in the event of a disability.) Our goal is to provide your choice of services exactly when you need us the most.

This is a lifetime commitment to you and your family. We even incorporate state of the art safeguards to limit account modification and tampering in the event of disability. The one-time, for-life; simple, efficient, and guaranteed.

Claims, Reports & Authorization Persons

We accept claims for all accounts other than our basic paid tier from people you designate, executors/administrators, courts, medical professionals, powers of attorney and your designated professional. We also provide access codes to our paid tiers.

We have validation procedures for all claims and validate the circumstances generating the claim (health issue, disability, disappearance or death) in determining what to provide. For instance, a request by a hospital/medical professional will only receive a living will (if one is on file).

While giving out your password is easy, the practice (particularly for a service like ours) can be risky and result in unfortunate results like the sharing of personal and private letters intended for others. We think that sharing your password is always a bad idea; particularly when it comes to family crisis events and sensitive information.

With that in mind, our system is built to allow others access to certain information without exposing the sensitive aspects of the account or result in an increased risk of identity theft, fraud or misconduct. We work quickly with authorized persons, access codes, attorneys-in-fact (powers of attorney) and guardians through our safeguarded system.

Naming an authorized person is permitted for all account types except for the Basic paid account (the Basic account offers an access code). To name an authorized person means designating someone to receive your custom personal report and providing basic information to allow extremely fast validation and claim response.

Naming an authorized person is easy. Just fill out a few informational items and remember to keep this updated since we will use the information to help us verify the identity of your authorized persons. You can update or change your authorized individuals at any time.

Your beneficiaries are not automatically able to request a report or to gain access to your account. While your account is intended for the use of your estate, we don’t know who your executor is, and we certainly don’ t know who your beneficiaries are. This is the stuff for courts.

We cut through all of this process stuff and work with your named designees, appointed executor(s) and courts directly. By utilizing our services, we’ll allow for fast information that might help make this whole process easier than it otherwise ever could have been.

In addition to your named authorized persons, we accept claims from executor/personal representatives, probate courts, guardians and others as appropriate. There may be fees for certain requests not provided through an access code or authorized person so that we can take measures to seek to ensure that proper security and validation procedures are completed.

Your personal access code is issued to you so that you can allow others you provide the code to access to the reports that we generate on your behalf, but not direct access to your account. Our reports are designed to provide important information without risk of identity theft, fraud and so forth, or access to your personal letters and videos. The code is designed for convenience and efficiency and you may share your code with anyone you choose, or not at all – but do so carefully. There’s sensitive information here.

We use the information you have given us, paperwork we request and other tools to help ensure that everything is in good order and that people are who they say they are. We take great pride in our security and care in this regard. However, for security reasons, we’ll leave it at that.

Once we receive a validated claim, a sequence of events is triggered. First, we provide the location of your estate documents so that your estate can move forward efficiently. Next, we issue a report that will help to identify asset sources, including accounts that should be automatically transferred, such as right-of-survivorship accounts, joint accounts (subject to legal limitations), transfer-on-death accounts and accounts with designated beneficiaries. Claims for benefits (such as employment benefits for expenses, life insurance policies, pension plans, transfers on death, etc.) can then be entered. Many people find this an important step to help cover funeral, household, family and other personal expenses.

We next address your personal wishes, including instructions for sharing information, providing emails and communications in line with your requests, and any additional personal communications that you have instructed. Depending on your elections, we quickly work to collect photographs and videos so that they can be properly preserved and transferred to your loved ones.

Yes.  In other words, if a claim requires legal incapacity/disability, we ask for supporting documentation of that disability. This is designed to prevent fraud, misconduct and errors.

Privacy & Security

We believe that maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of your private information is the most important thing that we do. We have built our systems in an innovative manner designed to help ensure the privacy and security of your personal information, reduce the risk of theft, and minimize the ramifications of any security breach. Please see our Privacy Policy for detailed information.

We share your information as you instruct us to do so (for example, in establishing your authorized persons in the event that something happens to you) and to comply with applicable law. Please familiarize yourself with our Privacy Policy for detailed information regarding the circumstances in which we share your information.

You, and only you, are our client when it comes to protecting your information and following your instructions. We can be sticklers when it comes to verifying the identify of anyone making a request, even legal authorities, and have procedures to verify the identity of the requesting individual as well as confirming that the triggering circumstance has occurred.

Our verification process is greatly simplified if your account is updated with correct information about you and your authorized persons, in particular email addresses and phone numbers.

We understand what is needed to administer an estate, and what information is needed for identity theft helps us to do our job better to protect you and your family. We provide the exact amount of information required to get the job done without exposing you to added risks. In addition to limiting the information we share, we also use sophisticated tools to encrypt, scramble and redact data.

We do more than many financial institutions when it comes to identity verification. Depending on the circumstances, we may request official documents (such as a certified death certificate, court documents, or other verification), and make direct contact with these sources to verify a claimant’s identity and legitimacy. While nothing can prevent fraud, we seek to exceed standard industry safeguards in our verification process.

National Will Registry uses physical document storage facilities which are among the most secure in the world through our partnership with Iron Mountain; exceeding the physical security options available from the office of a typical attorney, CPA or other investment professional; and much more secure than any home storage option. We use the industry’s best when it comes to your family’s protection.

The beauty of our system is that you are in complete control of your own information because you alone enter it into the system. Our administrative process limits the information that our customer service representatives can see. We do maintain an audit and quality process to identify potential missed fields or red flags. Rest assured that your information’s confidentiality is of paramount importance to us.

Estate Planning FAQS

Family harmony is always put to the test particularly in times of stress or loss. When decisions regarding money, possessions and memorabilia come into play, many families need all the help they can get and little things can cause a lifetime of hurt and dissension. Conflict within families never really heals, and the best strategy is to build a plan and structure to avoid problems.

Start off with good planning; but as importantly implement a plan to ensure that your goals are met. While little can guarantee against conflict, we help to ensure that your plan can be achieved and that your family has the most reliable and robust tools available to reduce stress and conflict by ensuring that documents are located, instructions provided and everything that you have worked for is identified, protected, and preserved.

No. We covered this above. While our services are essential to an overall estate plan, we do not prepare wills or trusts, things commonly associated with “estate planning.” Our goal is to ensure that all elements of your estate plan are found, protected, and preserved so that your plan functions as it is supposed to; increasing family preparation and found assets and reducing stress and conflict.

Unfortunately, families are torn apart every day despite the existence of plans, and documents such as wills and trusts, proving that it is not merely a “plan” that helps a family survive. Instead, millions of documents each year are lost, tampered with or left incomplete; assets are not identified or inventoried.

Our service helps to ensure that your plan is located and complied with. It is only with careful preparation as to how the process will work and the reassurance of a fail-safe technical system that your family can be confident that the right decisions and actions are taken, even in as difficult a time as this.

What we call “dormant factors” can damage a family’s ability to survive tragedy. Disputes can take shape after many festering for decades awaiting an opportunity to bloom. Too often, we have seen situations in which documents were lost, intentionally destroyed, mementos or articles secretly removed, accounts improperly accessed, etc., creating embittered foes of otherwise reasonable people. Even something like the care and attention of the family, and the mood, knowledge and enthusiasm of your executor will, as one example, determine the manner in which your estate will be administered. When it comes to money, billions of dollars in insurance policies go unclaimed annually because the heirs are unaware that they exist. The documentation helps, but only if it is found. Yet in fact it’s not the documentation, but in what people actually know and do that matters.

Many families choose to operate without a will, and an extraordinary number of individuals (most in fact) just never get around to it. Quite literally, procrastination is the most common form of estate planning. So by definition, no one needs a will.

In fact, the law has written a will for you. The law uses a few rules to determine who gets what in the event that a person dies without a will. This process is known as intestate succession and covered by the laws of the state in which you reside. The decisions made in such a process may not represent what you would have wanted to have happen after your death. For this reason, most people prefer to draft a will. If you have children, pets or complex assets or relationships, a will becomes more necessary.

Whether or not to use a will is a complex question. Regardless, wills are used as a starting point to choose executors and assign guardians for children, manage assets not directly distributed, and to commence the probate process.

Yes. The Living Will (or Health Directive) is an essential tool allowing you to give provide instructions to your family and health care professionals regarding your decisions about medical treatment in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself or otherwise communicate your decisions. Without this document, things can become very confusing and contentious for your family and medical professionals.

Great clarity is necessary particularly as courts have tripped over issues such as the clarity of instructions and other issues regarding acts in the event of pregnancy. Give careful consideration to these issues in the event that you prepare this documentation or speak with your estate professional.

The use of a Power of Attorney is important in the event that you are not able to make or communicate your decisions or instructions regarding your affairs. POAs can be complicated, particularly if they are “springing” (springing means that the powers become effective upon an event such as incapacity), or “durable” (whether the powers are intended to last after the principal becomes incapacitated). Typically, a durable power of attorney is necessary as part of the overall living plan. Without this document, there will be uncertainty and possible fighting in the event that decisions and instructions are required.

Probate is perceived as a dirty word. The definition of the word “probate” is simply the process of validating a will to permit the retitling of assets. The process is important and necessary in order to address the needs of children and heirs as well as to help finalize a person’s affairs, including the termination of the rights of creditors/claimants. That’s really all there is to it.

Probating assets, however, is often regarded as a bad practice for a few reasons; the core of which is that there is some cost and, more notably, delay. A common goal is to minimize the probate estate administration process so that your assets can be administered in the fastest, most effective manner possible.

With that said, some families elect probate as a desirable course of action; and there are a variety of reasons why probate might make sense (such as to require court oversight). However, whether assets are included in a probate estate however does not directly impact estate taxes, election of beneficiaries or payment of estate debts. Of course this is a complicated area and consulting a professional is important if these issues are of importance to you.

Individual states and courts have found ways to make the probate process proceed more efficiently, particularly in the case of small estates that can utilize fast track and simplified processes.

Yes and no. We help by assisting your family in locating your documentation as well as helping to identify assets and areas in which beneficiaries and transfers on death can be directly executed. This helps provide certainty, reduce stress, avoid conflict and help your family in countless other ways. If the planning was designed to move assets outside of probate, we will greatly assist by helping ensure that the documents and instructions are located.

Estate planning seems archaic because it is. Many of the laws and concepts date back centuries. Archaic or not, the problem many people face is that technical perfection must be achieved or a will or trust could be invalidated. The penalties for simple mistakes can be devastating.

In essence, however, the rules both then and now generally make sense as they relate to one governing principle — are the documents accurate. Nevertheless, particularly as U.S. courts struggle with over 2,500,000 deaths per year, the technicalities do matter (e.g., how a document is signed, witnessed, drafted, etc.) so as rigid as it might seem, courts have simple and efficient rules of thumb.

As discussed in the prior FAQ, estate planning is truly a game of perfection. Small errors can have significant ramifications and the rules can be rigid and complex.

This rigidity of estate laws did not come out of nowhere. The rules were designed primarily to identify and avoid fraud and impose strict protections against conflicts of interest. For instance, if the witness to the signing of your will is a beneficiary, that witness could be punished by having their entire interest in the estate reduced or eliminated. Signature, capacity, validity and clarity are all areas in which the law holds true to its rigid requirements.

The rules punish errors severely because courts look to the now-deceased individual’s documentation for proof of “intent”—and since court’s can’t bring that person back to life. Errors at face value and courts will require evidence as to a person’s intent before fixing errors in favor of one person over another. Also, since the court system must process more than 2,500,000 estates each year, it must count on individuals to get it right or pay the price. Ultimately you don’t get a do-over when your family needs it most.

That depends. A simple form is sufficient for many people and off-the-shelf forms and companies such as LegalZoom have done a remarkable job at helping families do-it-themselves. However, technical details matter and mistakes can be punished harshly. That said, a surprising number of people would do a better job of protecting more assets and the interests of their loved ones if tax or estate professionals are involved. Administration and tax planning and the use of trusts can be complicated. In families that have any meaningful risk of conflict, individuals would be particularly well-advised to work with an expert.