So, you have gone through the motions, you have made the decisions, you have finalized your will, living will, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents.....but do you remember where you put them? A lost estate plan is as effective as no estate plan at all. Unfortunately, lost estate plans are all too common and can lead to big headaches for your loved ones down the road.
A vital part of the estate planning process is storing your documents in a safe place and making sure your friends or loved ones know where to find them. Where should you store your estate planning documents? While any safe place will do, below are a few good options:
- A fireproof safe in your home. Make sure your family or executor know how to access the documents.
- A safe deposit box. Again, make sure family members or appointed agents have full access to the safe deposit box.
- Your lawyer's office. Some attorneys will store wills on behalf of their clients. Make sure your loved ones know how to get in touch with your lawyer to access your documents.
- Your local probate court. By filing your will with your local probate court prior to your death, you can eliminate the risk of losing your will.
- Your doctor's office. By keeping copies of your health care power of attorney and living will on file with your doctor's office, you save your loved ones time and energy needed to search for these documents when they become necessary.
The most important part of storing your estate plan is letting your friends and loved ones know where these documents can be found for ease of access when the need arises. It is also a good idea to store a list of your bank accounts, contact information for your financial planner and attorney, email and social media accounts, and all passwords in a safe place that can be accessed by your loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death. As always, the best way to ensure proper execution of your estate plan is to plan ahead.