Families often are surprised by how easy it is to create a foundational legal plan to protect their estate. However, even the best legal plan doesn’t do much good if no one knows where it is.
Often, your will has important information about how you want to handle your estate once you pass. This usually includes information about planning your funeral. In most cases, the will isn’t read until after the funeral, because loved ones didn’t even know where to find the will. It is surprising how many families don’t find an estate plan, or don’t find one until it’s too late. So, where should you store your estate plan?
1. Safe Deposit Box
For many people, the go-to place is in a safe deposit box at the local bank. While banks are a place of safety, they also can be hard to access, and often require a court to grant access, if the original owner cannot access it and didn’t properly grant successor authority. If this is your choice, make sure to set up authorization with the bank for someone else to access the box in the event you cannot.
2. Home Safe
A fireproof or other type of home safe can be sufficient to protect your important paperwork in most situations, but verify what protection it provides. Some fireproof safes are not water tight or have very short burn protection times. Additionally, this manner of storage has the potential to be tampered with by theft, intentional destruction by a jealous heir, or even fraud after your passing.
3. The Cloud
Under Georgia laws that cover directives and powers of attorney, you can use copies of the documents if the document expresses (clearly written out) that authority. This allows for a well-drafted document to be saved as an electronic document, and stored in the cloud, or saved on a loved one’s phone. This way, if something happens, they can act quickly, without having to go home and get a physical copy.
4. Lawyer’s Office
A lawyer’s office has the potential of being one of the worst possible places to store your will. Many people don’t realize that, when their attorney offers to safeguard the original, it often is a tactic to require your loved ones to come to them for the probate process when you pass away. This can result in more fees and hassle for your loved ones, which is what you were trying to avoid by planning ahead.
Wherever you choose to store your estate plan for safekeeping, inform key family members and friends that you have a plan. You don’t need to share what it says, but, in case you get sick or pass, let those who will help administer it know where to find it.
By Joshua Nelson, contributing writer and elder care law attorney with Nelson Elder Care Law, LLC.