Where Should I Keep My Estate Planning Documents?

Tips for storing your estate planning documents

There are four things that I tell all of my clients to keep in mind when thinking of a place to store their estate planning documents.

Find a secured place to store your documents.

I recommend some place that is fire resistant and off of the floor. A fire resistant box, safe or gun safe works perfectly. Some people prefer to use a safe deposit box at their bank. Wherever you choose to store them, just make sure that they are unlikely to get wet, burned or viewed by people who they aren’t intended for.

Tell a trusted individual where your estate planning documents are.

I recommend telling the person(s) you’ve nominated to be your personal representative or attorney in fact where you keep your documents. A will is of no use to you and your loved ones if no one can find it after your passing.

Consider giving a copy to your financial institution(s) or hospital(s).

I suggest that clients consider giving a copy of their durable power of attorney for financial purposes to their bank. Then their nominated attorney in fact won’t have to scramble to find a copy in case there is an emergency. I also recommend clients give a copy of their healthcare directive to their primary physician(s). The copy lets nurses and physicians know that you have predetermined what actions may or may not be taken for your benefit should there be an emergency.

Do not mention where you store your estate planning documents in the documents themselves.

Since documents are only effective if your loved ones can find them, discussing their location in the documents themselves is useless.

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