If you have been proactive about your eventual demise and now have a comprehensive estate plan in place, you should carefully consider the best place to keep that plan. You will want it to be kept private and secure, but also you want your loved ones to be able to locate it after your death. You should realize that the best plans in the world won't be of benefit to anyone if they cannot be located. If you pass away and your important documents cannot be found, you are effectively placing all estate and will decisions in the hands of your local probate office. Read on for some ideas on good places to keep your plan, and decide on the best location for you and your family.
Most people must naturally use the most convenient place to keep their estate paperwork. If you decide to keep your information in your home, think carefully about ensuring it's kept safe. Consider a fire-proof lock box or safe that protects the documents from water, fire, and tampering. Since most of these boxes use either a key or a combination lock, you should consider letting a loved one in on the information ahead of time. You don't want your home being turned upside down in an effort to locate the information that might be needed to plan your funeral and burial.
Safe Deposit Box
After the home, many people think that a bank safe deposit box is ideal. It is safe and protected at the bank, but accessibility may be questionable. For example, banks have limited hours of operation and are almost always closed on weekends and holidays. If you do decide to use this method for safekeeping your documents, be sure to provide another person with a key to the box. If possible, leave your burial instructions separately in a more accessible location.
When you make out a will or create a trust, you will also be naming a personal representative or trustee. This person should be a trusted family member or friend who will abide by your final wishes and administer the will or the trust after your death. Leaving a copy of your estate documents with these people can make it easier to carry out your final wishes.
The estate attorney who creates your plan will undoubtedly retain a copy of it, and if your loved ones cannot locate it, they can always contact the attorney. Unfortunately, many estate-related documents that may not be created by the attorney are just as important. For example, life insurance policies should be part of an estate plan but might be located elsewhere away from the attorney's office.
To learn more about good locations for your paperwork, speak with your estate or probate attorney.