Where to Store Estate Planning Documents After Being Signed
Where should I store my estate planning documents, and who should know where they are?
Recently, a colleague and I designed an estate plan for a middle-aged couple that included a revocable trust, pour-over will, living will and durable power of attorney. As we sat in our final meeting and went over the specifics for the final time prior to signing, the couple had a list of questions about what to do with their plan once it was completed. The answers to these questions are sometimes just as important as the actual beneficiaries and individual line items in the plan.
Where should I keep my original estate planning documents?
The answer is quite simple. They should be kept in a safe, accessible place.
1. A safety deposit box is always a good option. However, be sure to acquire the box in the name of your revocable trust, so the trustee will be able to gain immediate access to your box. If the box is in the deceased’s name, a court order will be needed to gain access thereby delaying execution of the wishes of that person.
2. A fire/water-proof safe in your home is another great option. Bestow the safe combination with a trustworthy person and you should be ok.
3. Lastly, your estate planning attorney should keep a copy of all the original signed documents.
Who should know where your documents are kept?
Some believe that the plan should be discussed with all beneficiaries, but there are two schools of thought behind this.
1. One advantage to being open is the peace of mind and comfort that your estate will be protected.
2. On the other hand, letting beneficiaries know your true intentions may entice those folks to give “false love.” Who really wants someone being nice just because they get a portion of your wealth after you die?
The most important aspect to consider while making these types of decisions is contemplating your own personal situation. Everyone’s family is different and will react accordingly.