Where Should I Store My Estate Planning Documents?

Your estate planning documents are among the most important documents you will ever possess. Therefore, they should be stored securely. However, estate planning documents must also be readily obtainable by your trusted family members and advisors. That brings us to a common question: Where should you store your estate planning documents? The following tips can help with that decision.

Storing at home. If you store a copy of your documents at home, they need to be kept in a secure location that can also be accessed by one or two other people. A fireproof safe is a good choice. If you choose to use a home safe it is important that your share an extra key (or the lock combination) with at least two other trustworthy people. Ideally, these people live somewhat close, so that these documents can be accessed quickly if needed.

Give your estate planning documents to someone else. You might opt to give a copy of the documents to your trust’s designated successor trustee or named executor. If so, this person should follow a protocol with regard to keeping the papers safe.

Ask your attorney about the originals. Most estate planning attorneys will keep the signed original documents, for at least a period of time. Of course, you should be certain to share your attorney’s name with one or two close, trusted people (for example your designated successor trustee or named executor).

Utilize virtual storage. You might also opt to store health care documents, health information, and contact information with a digital storage service such as Docubank. This way, your pertinent medical information is available 24 hours per day via a simple phone call. On the other hand, there is always the chance of a data breach when storing any information digitally. It might be best to store your financial information elsewhere.

A bank’s safe deposit box isn’t the best idea. If you want to keep a copy of your estate planning documents in a bank’s vault you should consider whether a bank provides easy enough access. Safe deposit boxes are often difficult to access for your heirs, successor trustee’s and named executors without careful planning. However, if you choose to use a bank safe deposit box make sure you have a more accessible copy of the documents elsewhere.

Aside from your estate planning documents, store your birth and marriage certificates, bank account information, retirement account statements, life insurance policy, funeral instructions, a personal contact list, and any other related information in the same place. Doing this can save time and effort during an already difficult time for your loved ones.

For more information on estate planning documents, from creating to storing them, consult with an estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney can guide you through these complex decisions and help you keep your vital documents secure.

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