• storing estate planning documents

Storing Estate Planning Documents

Many clients for whom we have prepared a living trust ask us about the best place for storing estate planning documents.  From storing such documents with your bank, to providing loved ones with copies, the place you choose for storing your estate planning documents needs to be where your beneficiaries can reach them in the event of your death. There are many options available for storing estate planning documents. Read on to learn more about how to keep these important documents safe.

Storing Estate Planning Documents in Bank Safe Deposit Box

Many people believe that the best place for storing estate planning documents is in a safe deposit box at the local bank or in a personal home safe. Though your estate planning documents may be secure in these locations, in the event a person is incapacitated or passes away, it may be hard for his/her loved ones to get access to such documents. For example, if a trusted loved one is not designated with the bank as having co-access to the safe deposit box, he/she will have to get a court order to gain access to the documents. Though A People’s Choice does not promote storing estate planning documents and your living trust in a safe deposit box at the local bank, if you insist on doing so, it is critical you add your executor or successor trustee of your trust as another person with access.

Storing Estate Planning Documents At Home

Storing estate planning documents at home in a safe can also be a good, cost-effective option. If you do store your estate documents at home in a personal safe, make sure to let a trusted loved one know the combination to the safe. Placing your estate planning documents in a waterproof fireproof safe will keep your documents protected from destruction, however, someone needs to be able to easily access the safe if something happens to you.

Digital Options for Storing Estate Planning Documents

In addition to storing estate planning documents at home, you may choose to ask the legal document service provider who helped draft and execute the documents to keep a signed, electronic version of your documents. Not all providers offer this type of storage service. There are also online services that offer reasonably priced digital storage solutions for storing estate planning documents and other important papers.  No matter what choice you make for storing your estate documents, make sure you tell your trust administrator and beneficiaries where you put them and how they can be accessed.

Storing Estate Planning Documents with Attorney

If you paid an attorney to draft your estate documents, it is definitely not a good idea to store the original estate documents with that attorney. Attorneys typically offer to retain the original estate documents on their client’s behalf. Attorneys like to keep these original estate documents in anticipation that your loved ones will then be forced to hire the attorney for trust administration or other legal documents required after death (which may be expensive). Trust administration documentation does not have to be drafted by an attorney. These types of services can be easily and inexpensively performed by an experienced legal document assistant. In addition, as time passes on, it may be difficult for your loved ones to  track down the attorney when the original estate documents are needed. This may be even more difficult in the event the attorney changes firms, relocates, or passes away. It is best to keep your original estate planning documents within your immediate possession and control.

Giving Family Copies of Your Trust

You can provide copies of your trust to family members so they will know your intentions. In the event your estate planning documents are not able to be located, the copy can serve as a basis of establishing your intent on the disposition of your assets.

Creating your estate documents is an important step to planning for the future. Deciding the best place for storing estate planning documents is also of great consequence and may require you to consider several factors such as convenience for you and your family, accessibility and cost.  It is also essential that your family knows where to find your estate planning documents. Storing a copy of your original estate planning documents in electronic format is a great back-up option.  Contact A People’s Choice for more information on creating and storing your estate planning documents. We have over 35 years experience assisting people conscientiously plan for the proper handling of their estate upon their passing.

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By | 2018-01-18T15:47:07+00:00 January 18th, 2016|Estate Planning|1 Comment

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

One Comment

  1. Natasha September 12, 2016 at 3:01 am - Reply

    Great article Sandy! Digital estate planning storage is becoming more and more popular these days. People don’t have to worry about lost documents/safety deposit box keys, etc. This helps to avoid probate and a lot of stress during an already devastating time.

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