Where Should I Keep My Estate Planning Documents?
Good question! You’ve thought through your estate plan and you’ve gone to your attorney to prepare a Will or Trust just how you want it. Then what? You lock them up in your home safe, put them in your safe deposit box, or you hide them where no one can find them. If you die and your documents are not somewhere where they can be found or accessed, what good are they?
If you trust someone enough to name them as the Personal Representative of your estate, at a minimum you should be able to give them a copy of your documents and tell them where they can find your original documents and how to access them.
A safe deposit box can be a real hassle if no one has access to it besides you. Even if your trusted Personal Representative knows that is where your documents are kept, if they are not authorized to access the box, they will have to ask the court to appoint them as Personal Representative for purposes of accessing the safety deposit box before they can ask to be fully recognized as your Personal Representative. Not to mention the fees the bank charges if the key is not available.
At our firm, we hold most of our clients’ original documents. We then prepare a notebook for our clients containing copies of all of the documents with a sticker in the top corner of each document saying where the original can be found. This notebook can be kept on a bookshelf or somewhere conspicuous where your family can find it when necessary. Although it never hurts to point it out to your trusted Personal Representative.