Where Do I Store My Will? An Estate Planning Lawyer’s Guide 

You’ve crossed the finish line of estate planning – congratulations! That carefully crafted will, trust, and power of attorney are poised to carry out your wishes. But the journey’s not quite over. Now comes the crucial question: where do you store these vital documents?

Let’s explore the possibilities, each with its own set of pros and cons:

1. Home:

  • Pros: Convenient, always accessible, and you can keep an eye on them. A fireproof safe provides extra security.
  • Cons: Risk of loss in a fire, flood, or theft. Your house isn’t Fort Knox. And family members might stumble upon them before the time is right, causing unnecessary worry or confusion.

2. Safe Deposit Box:

  • Pros: Secure access with multiple verification layers, fire and flood protection, and peace of mind knowing they’re out of your home.
  • Cons: Access can be limited during bank hours or after someone has passed awy. Dealing with bureaucracy on your loved ones’ behalf might be tricky. Consider annual access fees and potential box closure rules.

3. Online Storage:

  • Pros: Convenient access from anywhere with an internet connection, easy sharing with your executor, and potentially lower risk of physical damage.
  • Cons: Cybersecurity concerns exist, though reputable sites offer strong encryption. Ensuring your loved ones have login credentials and tech savvy to access them in your absence requires planning. Also, a probate court may require the original.

4. Lawyers Office:

  • Pros: Your lawyer already knows the documents and can readily assist your loved ones when the time comes. Secure storage and confidentiality are guaranteed.
  • Cons: Not all lawyers offer this service, and fees might apply. Requires additional trust and communication with your lawyer about their document retention policies.

5. Family and Friends (Proceed with Caution):

  • Pros: Familiar face for your loved ones and potentially easier emotional access.
  • Cons: Risk of loss, damage, or unauthorized access. Potential for family conflict if mishandled or misplaced. Choose trust and organization skills wisely.

6. Your Executor. Even if you don’t leave a physical copy with the executor (or the secondary trustee), that person should have access to the document through your attorney or online or wherever the document is stored.

Ultimately, the ideal document sanctuary depends on your individual needs and preferences. Consider convenience, security, and accessibility for your loved ones. Remember, clear communication about their location and who should access them upon your passing is crucial.

Bonus Tip: Make copies! Keep one with your lawyer, one at home in a separate location from the originals and consider sharing a digital copy with a trusted family member (with proper security measures in place).

Start Your Planning

No matter where you choose to store your estate planning documents, the most important thing is to do it! The The Gregory Law Firm makes the process easy. Start by booking an online Peace of Mind Planning Session, a one-hour meeting with me. You’ll share your goals and objectives, and I’ll present your options and my unique flat fees. Then, if we’re a good fit to work together, we’ll discuss the next steps. Book your Peace of Mind Planning Session right here on the website. Mention this blog post and we’ll waive the $450 fee!

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