Important documents that relate to your estate plan need to be kept in places that are safe, but at the same time, can be easily accessed by your relatives or those you give the authority to access to. This is important, especially if your will is one of those documents. You need to keep it in a place that people will know they should look. These factors in mind, you have a lot of options.
But the least favorable place you can store your documents pertaining to your estate plan is in a safe deposit box. The reason is because the signer and key holder can only access these. When that person passes away, no one can access it without a probate — unless they have a backup signer.
Why You Shouldn’t Store Estate Documents in a Safe Deposit Box
Generally, the will takes control of the probate process. In situations where the will is not present, the probate will have to go on without the will to retrieve authorization to access the safe deposit box. This is not ideal, especially in instances where a probate is not required, such as if the deceased had a revocable trust plan. Even without the need for the lengthy probate process, the beneficiaries will have to undertake it anyway just to allow access to the will and other estate plan documents.
A safe deposit box may keep your estate plan documents secure, but it can also bring about unwarranted hassle and complications when it is time to enforce the provisions of the will. Unless you have a back-up signer for your safe deposit box, it will be difficult for your lawyer and relatives to access.
Best Places to Store Estate Planning Documents
There are other better ways you can store your estate plan documents to make it easier for your attorney and beneficiaries to access it when you pass away.
Fire Safe, Gun Safe, or Document Safe
These are the best places to keep your will and other estate planning documents. Your lawyer and relatives will know to look in these safes. And even if you don’t give the key or combination to anyone, professionals can easily be hired to open them.
It’s ideal to store all your important documents in a single file cabinet. This is not only for organization’s sake, but also to make it easier for your relatives to find. People will know that your estate planning documents will be in this cabinet, along with other important files like your real estate papers, insurance documents, etc.
It’s also a good idea to have electronic copies of your documents. You can send these to your relatives if you’re okay with them having access to them. However, not all people will be comfortable sharing this confidential information. You can opt to send a copy to your law firm for safe keeping.
A safe deposit box should be your last option when storing your documents. When choosing a good place, keep these two factors in mind:
- The documents should be kept secure
- It should be easy to access so as not to give your loved ones issues when the time comes to enforce it.