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6 minute read

Digital Shift: How Americans Embrace Online Life and Finances

How many Americans are starting to use technology to manage significant aspects of their lives? A recent study reveals that digital management is here to stay.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

How often do you enlist the help of technology to manage various aspects of your life? The answer to this question, without debate, has shifted profoundly over the past decade.

In a recent study, Trust & Will surveyed Americans to find out what aspects of their lives are managed digitally, and how comfortable they are with the use of technology.  Do you use technology as much as other Americans? Keep reading to find out.

Embracing Digital Management

According to the study, it's not just millennials and Gen Z who are embracing digital management. In fact, the majority of Americans use technology to manage some aspect of their lives regardless of their age. They use their devices to maintain a calendar, set appointments and reminders, and even write notes. The vast majority agreed that they would be more forgetful without the use of their electronic devices.

The study also found that Americans are increasingly using technology to manage major aspects of their lives, not just the day-to-day. For example, over half of survey respondents are using digital technology to manage:

  • Health and healthcare

  • Finances and banking

  • Relationships and friendships

  • Estate planning

  • Work

Other statistically significant responses included shopping, education, and investing. 

Health and Healthcare

The impact of digital technology on health and healthcare in America is undeniable. 58% of survey respondents reported managing their health and wellness digitally.

So how does technology intersect with personal wellness?

We started to see a shift towards digital fitness tracking when companies such as Apple and FitBit began to introduce health apps and wearable technology. This shift began to enhance a sense of individual convenience. Coupled with the global pandemic, we began to see the acceleration of patient-centered approaches transforming the healthcare sector. Today, it is the norm to schedule medical appointments and access electronic records online. Consulting with healthcare professionals through telemedicine appears to be here to stay, and you can now even fill prescriptions online and have them delivered to your door.

Personal Finance

In terms of personal finance and banking, the burgeoning rise of financial technology or 'fintech' has revolutionized the way we manage our money. An impressive 52% of respondents in our survey are comfortable managing their hard-earned money online.

The advent of online banking has made it possible for users to conduct most of their banking tasks from the comfort of their homes. They can check account balances, transfer funds, or even apply for loans with just a few clicks. Mobile payment apps such as Venmo are another offshoot of this digital wave, providing a seamless and convenient way to pay bills and send money.

In addition, robo-advisors are changing the investment landscape, providing personalized advice based on algorithms. They're making investing more accessible to the broader public by lowering the entry barrier and costs. Cryptocurrencies, too, have gained traction, adding a new layer to the way in which we can manage wealth.

The digitization of the financial sector extends beyond simple convenience; it also enhances financial inclusivity by reaching groups who were previously underserved by traditional financial institutions.

Relationships & Friendships

Social media platforms have evolved beyond just connecting people for personal relationships. They are now at the forefront of how we develop and maintain professional relationships, expanding our networks and opportunities. Social media has also become a critical tool in keeping friendships alive, especially during these recent years where travel was limited.

An astounding 70% of survey respondents aged 18 to 26 stated that they manage their relationships digitally. This means that they don't view technology as a secondary or tertiary method of managing interpersonal connections (as is the indication for older age groups), but as the primary method. Young Americans view it as absolutely normal to have friends, even romantic relationships, that they encountered virtually and not in-person.

Estate Planning

Over half of our survey respondents stated that estate planning is an aspect of their lives that they manage digitally as well.  This is a particularly important topic because many people overlook the importance of having an estate plan in place. With digital platforms, users can easily access tools and resources to learn more about estate planning and create their own plans or seek professional help.

The convenience and accessibility of managing estate planning digitally have also allowed for more diversity in who is able to engage in this process. Previously, estate planning was primarily accessible to those who could afford expensive legal services. Now, with digital tools and resources, people from all backgrounds can learn about and participate in the estate planning process.

Digital platforms have also made it easier for individuals to keep their estate plans up-to-date. With changing life circumstances and laws, it is crucial to regularly review and update an estate plan. Through online platforms, individuals can easily make changes and adjustments to their plans, ensuring that their wishes are accurately reflected.

Work & Education

In the world of education, digital platforms have made learning accessible regardless of physical location. From elementary schools to prestigious universities, institutions are embracing online learning platforms. Zoom classes, educational apps, and online course materials are increasingly becoming part of the learning journey.

Similarly, the corporate landscape has seen a significant change with the rise of remote work trends. Companies are leveraging technology to connect with their teams through platforms such as Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. Tasks and projects are managed through digital tools such as Asana and Trello, making team collaboration efficient and seamless.

Moreover, digital transformation is not just about convenience; it's about democratizing access to quality work and education opportunities. It opens doors for individuals who might have been limited by geographical constraints, and it empowers people to find a work-life balance that suits their unique circumstances.

The Rise of Digital Management

As society evolves, so does our relationship with technology. We've seen a gradual shift towards managing finances online, but recent global events have sped up the adoption of digital management in other areas.

For example, many people have turned to telemedicine for healthcare needs, and online banking has become the norm for managing finances. Additionally, while social distancing mandates are no longer place, virtual communication has replaced face-to-face interactions in both personal and professional settings all over the world.

However, it's not just necessity driving this trend. As the study revealed earlier, most Americans agreed that they would be more forgetful if they hadn't integrated digital management into their lives. Moreover, the majority prefer using digital platforms over traditional in-person services when available. Convenience, speed, and comfort are likely aspects that make the use of digital products and services increasingly appealing.

There are also practical benefits that come with digital management, such as:

  • Accessibility: With digital management, individuals can access information and services anytime, anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection.

  • Organization: Keeping track of documents and important dates becomes more manageable with the use of digital tools.

  • Cost-saving: Digital tools often come at a lower cost than traditional in-person services, saving both time and money for individuals.

Moreover, digital management also creates a better sense of security, as individuals can safeguard their important information and documents with the use of secure password protection and online storage. This is especially important when it comes to healthcare and estate planning, where sensitive personal information needs to be protected.

Trust & Will: The Perfect Digital Estate Planning Companion

Estate planning, in particular, has seen a significant shift towards digital management in recent years. Trust & Will is an online estate planning platform that has participated in this movement and has driven significant change.

You can now partner with Trust & Will to create and update your estate plan from the comfort of your own home. This not only saves time, but also eliminates the need for in-person meetings with attorneys and expensive legal fees.

Trust & Will is also the platform that has delivered the very first eWills in the nation. Electronic Wills, or eWills for short, or Wills that are created, executed, and stored digitally from end-to-end. Unlike the traditional Will, eWills never have to be reduced to paper and thus have the potential to transform the sustainability of the estate planning industry. Trust & Will is behind lobbying efforts to enable more American states to adopt legislation that will recognize eWills.

What's more, digital estate planning allows for more efficient and accurate distribution of assets to your beneficiaries. Our extensive learning library is contributing to the democratization of the process, giving readers free access to education about estate planning methods and thus apply the tools that work best for their unique circumstances. With the use of digital tools, individuals can easily designate specific assets to specific recipients, reducing the risk of any confusion or disputes after their passing.

Digital Assets

We cannot have a conversation about digital estate planning without also discussing the importance of managing your digital assets.  In today's digital age, we all have a significant online presence and accumulate numerous digital assets throughout our lives. These assets can include social media accounts, email and cloud storage accounts, digital currency, and even cryptocurrency.

Without proper planning, these valuable assets can be lost forever or fall into the wrong hands. However, planning for the transfer of digital assets can be tricky to plan for. Luckily, Trust & Will has your back. Our Learn Center provides a number of resources on how to plan for your digital assets. Start with this one for instance.

Will you Join the Digital Revolution?

The digital revolution is transforming all aspects of our lives, including essential areas such as healthcare, finances, and estate planning. With the help of technology, estate planning can be efficient, accurate, and even democratic - granting you control over the distribution of your assets without the traditional hurdles.

Digital assets, a new but significant category of your estate, require careful planning to be transferred securely and as intended.

Fortunately, Trust & Will is here to support your journey in digital estate planning. With our  resources and support at your fingertips, it's time to take the next step. Don't let your digital legacy go to waste.Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning and settlement  options today!

Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Browse more topics in our learn center or chat with a live member support representative! 

Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.

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