I was listening to the radio this morning and heard a woman, vacationing in Hawaii this past weekend, describe her fear and terror as she learned she was under threat of a (false) missile attack. What was her first thought? “I need to call home and tell someone where my Will is!” So….
Where is the best place to keep your signed original estate planning documents?
- The best place is probably in a safe deposit box because it will protect the documents from theft, fire, accidental loss, and most other types of damage or harm. A potential problem, though, is getting it opened after your death.
If you decide to keep your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box, consider naming a family member or your Personal Representative or trustee as a joint holder on the box. That should simplify matters following your death because someone will be able to get into the box without delay.
Many people keep their original estate planning documents at home in a secure place. If you have a safe at home, that can be a good place to keep them. Be aware though, when thieves enter your home and discover a locked safe, they often take the whole safe thinking they’ll find cash and jewelry. The last thing they want is a file containing your estate planning documents, but that’s one of the things they’ll get if you keep them in your safe. Therefore, unless your safe is bolted to the foundation of your house, it may not be the best place to keep your originals.
More people than you would expect keep original Wills and other estate planning documents in an air-tight plastic bag at the bottom of their freezers. Freezers are well insulated and heavy, and have a way of withstanding fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Also, they don’t die or move away, and they are stolen far less frequently than in-home safes.
Should I give copies of my Will and other estate planning documents to my children and to the Personal Representatives of my estate?
- For some people, their estate planning documents are as private as their income tax returns, and nobody is ever given copies. For other people, estate planning documents are no different than a spare key to the house, and every family member and Personal Representative and/or trustee named in the documents is given a copy.
If you are the type of person who values your privacy, who does not especially trust your children, Personal Representative, or trustee, or if you have written a Will or trust which does not treat all the children equally, then it may not be a good idea to hand out copies. Also, you may have more money than your children expect, and depending on how your Will or trust is written, giving them a copy may be letting them know too much about your personal business.
Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today with questions. 386.256.4882