Retirement

Keeping Your Estate Planning Documents Safe

Congratulations, you have finally signed your estate planning documents. Now, where do you keep them?  

Many lawyers (myself included) will hold your original documents in their firm’s will vault. Years ago, that consisted of an actual vault or bank safe that was locked and fire proof. Nowadays, many law firms use fireproof, locked file cabinets. It is also common – especially in large cities where real estate is expensive – to move original documents to offsite storage facilities where the documents are secure and can often be accessed the same day if needed.  

Most people prefer for their attorney to hold the original documents. This prevents these important documents from being misplaced in your house. It also keeps the documents away from meddling family members and nosy house staff. 

Due to the high costs of storage and the move to paperless offices, some attorneys are now having their clients hold the original documents. While this reduces the overhead cost for the attorney to handle and store the documents, it leaves the client with the dilemma of where to put the original documents. 

If your attorney is in that camp, or if you just prefer to hold the originals yourself, you will need a safe and secure place for them. Here are some options.

Skip the safe deposit box. Do not put the original documents in a safe deposit box because the authority to get into the box is in the box. If you die or are incapacitated and no one else has access to the safe deposit box, they will need court authority to get into the box. To obtain that court authority, they need the documents in the box. It’s like a chicken or egg scenario.  

Invest in a fireproof safe. You can keep your original documents in a file cabinet in your home or office, but a fireproof safe is your best bet. 

Make sure you have copies. You should also have a set of hard copies in another location easily accessible to you. A safe deposit box is a great place for a set of copies of your documents. Your attorney should maintain a set of hard copies as well.  

Don’t forget your e-records. Your lawyer should also keep an electronic copy of your estate plan, and should send you an electronic version of the documents to keep with your e-records. 

All is not lost if the originals get lost. If the original documents somehow disappear, your family may still be able to use photocopies. For instance, a photocopy of a will can be probated after your executor has attested that they have made a diligent search to find the original which has not turned up.  

It’s not one and done. Remember to review your documents every few years to make sure the people you have named in them are still alive (and you are still speaking with them). You also want to make sure that your wishes as to who receives your assets have not changed.  

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

200,683-Acre Ranch Once Owned by Mrs. Fields Cookies Founder Is On The Market For $45 Million
Here’s how to play the massive transformation taking place in the stock market
Everything Jim Cramer said on ‘Mad Money,’ including playing the rotation, gold and bond prices
India Is Changing The Game For China And Pakistan In Kashmir
DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Sherman warns against buying Treasurys, says gold could be smart recession play

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *