Aging in Uncertain Times: Do You Have a Plan?

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a scary, uncertain and confusing time. Given the new COVID world we live in, there is no time like the present to make a plan for issues that might arise in the event of unexpected illness, incapacity or death. Proper planning can protect your family and minimize the uncertainty and stress that comes with unexpected disability or death, not to mention, help prepare for old age.

The current average lifespan for an American male is 84.3, and for a female, life expectancy is 86.6. These numbers will probably continue to increase over time. They’re also just averages; today, one out of four people aged 65 will live past 90, and one in ten will live past 95.

In other words, pandemic notwithstanding, there is a good chance you’re going to live a very long time! That’s good news, but the bad news is that a longer lifespan means a greater chance of encountering some type of disability or incapacity in those later years.

In our present world it is more important than ever to create a plan for life’s unexpected events. It is not enough to simply plan for what happens as we age. Here are some points to consider:
How will you pay for everything? You might need in-home nursing care, or specialized care in a facility. Do you have long term care insurance? Can you purchase it now cost effectively? If not, will you need to think about Medi-Cal planning?

How much responsibility will be placed on your loved ones? Many middle-aged and older people find themselves caring for an aging parent, and the financial and emotional costs can be considerable. How can you alleviate some of this burden? Do you need a third party to manage financial decisions to avoid conflict between children or other family members?

What are your wishes in the event of your incapacity? When you can’t make your own medical decisions, what do you want and who should make the final call? Have you evidenced your intent in an Advance Health Care Directive or Living Will? Do you need a third party to manage health care decisions to avoid conflict between children or other family members?

Who should manage your finances? Should it be the same person who handles your medical decisions, or someone else? As above, do you need a third party to manage financial decisions to avoid conflict between children or other family members?

How do you want your assets distributed after your death? Are there any special items that you want certain people to inherit?

What are the tax implications of your passing? How will this affect your heirs? Is there cash to pay any taxes, or will other assets need to be sold?

What are your burial and funeral wishes? Keep in mind that telling someone isn’t good enough; they could forget, become incapacitated, or struggle to make clear decisions while grieving.

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself and discuss with your family as you put together a plan. If you’re over age 50, or have children of any age, you should start to consider these points as soon as possible, and meet with an estate planning attorney for expert advice. Even if you are younger or without children, it is never too early to make good decisions and have a plan in place.

Call us to schedule an appointment, and reap the benefits of having an experienced estate planning attorney on your side. No matter what the rest of 2020 or beyond brings, putting together a cohesive plan for your family should be on the top of your to-do list.

Medical Emergency Information for Parents of College Students

It’s no secret that we’re all more conscious of our health and our family’s health because of the current global pandemic.

Which leads me to ask: Have you ever wondered who has the authority to make medical decisions for your college age adult children? Do you have that authority merely because you are the parent?

If you have a son or daughter heading off to college soon, who is an essential worker, or just turning 18, read on.

In these uncertain times there is more reason than ever to ensure that you have authorization to discuss your college age child’s medical information. This includes the ability to make medical decisions in the event your child is unable to make decisions for themselves.

Whether you are sending your kids off to college, or they are attending college virtually, the threat of contracting COVID-19 is real. Even without the current global pandemic, there is a myriad of accidents and illness that could affect your young adult child. It’s unlikely that you picture them enduring a serious medical emergency. And if you do, you write it off as normal parental anxiety. The unfortunate truth is that, yes, anyone of any age could experience a life- threatening health crisis, and that has never been more true than now.

Due to HIPAA regulations, you could be shocked to discover that the hospital will not discuss your child’s treatment, nor allow you to make certain decisions regarding their medical care if he or she has reached age 18. This is true even if your child is still covered by your family health insurance plan.

If your son or daughter is conscious and able to sign a document, they can give authorization to share details of their treatment with you (or with anyone else of their choosing). This obviously isn’t an option if your child is unconscious, on a ventilator, in too much pain, or sedated for surgical treatment. This is the worst time to find out that you do not have access to medical information, cannot make decisions about your child’s treatment or care, and that you legally have no authority without court intervention.

With proper planning you can protect yourself and your child from this scary and frustrating result. Here’s how:

HIPAA Authorization

Your son or daughter can sign this form, and file it with their primary medical provider. Some universities even ask students to fill out these forms in case of emergencies. If your child names you on the document, doctors and nurses can discuss their medical care with you. If your child is nervous about privacy issues, remind them that only information pertinent to the emergency will be discussed. A HIPAA authorization does not necessarily grant you free access to their entire medical file. Your child can specify that sensitive information about their sex life or mental health treatment, for example, are not to be shared.

Advance Health Care Directive

An Advance Health Care Directive provides a medical power of attorney and means that you will be able to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf, in the event that he or she is incapacitated. This document also states the individual’s wishes regarding life-sustaining interventions and organ donor wishes.

Durable power of attorney

Durable power of attorney extends rights a bit further, allowing you to take care of financial matters and other non-medical matters during your child’s illness. A power of attorney is also a good idea in the event that your son or daughter wishes to study abroad. You can take care of certain important matters, like filing taxes, paying bills, managing student loan money, and so on. Be sure to discuss these important matters with your 18-year-old or older child. No one, especially a teenager, wants to find themselves hundreds of miles from home, injured, and in the care of strangers. By meeting with an estate planning attorney now, you can prevent these difficulties in the event that they arise. Now more than ever, time is of the essence. Be prepared.

Notarization in a COVID-19 World and in the State of California

Many documents require a notary. Trusts, powers of attorney, loan documents, and deeds are a few examples. But during a global pandemic, how does one safely get documents notarized? This question is being asked a lot lately. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding online notarization. And despite what you might have heard or seen, California still requires in-person notarization.

In the midst of the coronavirus and state-wide stay at home orders, companies, estate planners, lenders, and the general public are struggling to close transactions. A big roadblock is the difficulty and potential danger of getting documents notarized. As most know, notarization is the official fraud-deterrent process that assures the parties to a transaction that a document (or at least the signature on the document) is authentic and can be trusted. It is three-part process performed by a notary public, and includes vetting, certifying and record-keeping. In California, it requires an in-person meeting and close contact.

Currently, California law does not provide the authority for California notaries to perform a remote online notarization (RON). The personal appearance of the document signer is required before the notary public. Notaries in California are considered essential workers, and in-person notarization is still possible during the current state-wide stay at home order.

As of the end of March, 23 states have enacted RON laws, and 17 are currently in effect. In some states, RON services are currently permitted by an emergency guidance or executive order. In early April a coalition of trade associations led by the California Land Title Association sent a letter to Governor Newsom requesting the issuance of an executive order expressly providing or affirming that California law recognizes the validity of documents legally remotely notarized outside the state.

The letter notes that, by allowing Californians to utilize RON services, real estate transactions and projects such as refinances and home construction could be completed in compliance with state and county shelter-in-place orders. The letter also points out that the order would codify written guidance recently issued by the California Secretary of State in communications to the National Notary Association.

In addition to the current push to have Governor Newsom issue an emergency guidance or executive order, in January of 2019, well before the uncertainly and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, AB-199 was introduced. AB-199, also known as the California Online Notary Act of 2019, would have authorized remote online notarization in California by permitting an online notary to conduct a notarial act using secure two-way interactive audio and video communication. If enacted, the online notary must be approved by the Secretary of State after undergoing specialized training and testing. The Secretary of State would be directed to draft regulations to implement the law and develop data and technology-neutral standards. Additionally, this technology will require the signer’s presentation of a photo ID, credential analysis, and identity proofing. Unfortunately, AB-199 is currently a dead bill, and as of February of 2020 the bill was filed with the Chief Clerk and is awaiting further action.

So, what is the best practice without RON services in California?

  • First, don’t be fooled by notaries offering online or skype notarization. California notaries are not authorized to offer RON services of any type. Further, out-of-state notaries performing RON services for California persons or documents governed by California law are not currently legally recognized as a valid notarization.
  • We recommend utilizing the services of a mobile or in-house notary who is practicing and utilizing social distancing as much as possible, uses single use pens, and wears gloves and a mask. Further, we recommend that you ask questions before making an appointment with a notary to ensure that all the necessary and reasonable precautions will be performed.
  • For a single document, we also recommend that you use the services of a local in-house notary at a bank or mail and packaging business, like a UPS Store or a Mailboxes, Etc. These business are already open, considered essential and generally have social distancing measure in place.
  • Finally, bring your own pen, wear a mask and gloves and do not have documents notarized if you or anyone in your home are showing the symptoms of illness.

Last but not least, be safe and stay well.

SECURE Act Provisions Impact Estate Planning

In December of 2019, President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. Aimed at making retirement planning accessible to more Americans, the Act triggered changes to IRA contributions and withdrawal schedules. But with regard to treatment of IRAs after the account holder’s death, the Act necessitates a review of estate plans to ensure that wishes will be followed as originally intended, and without triggering unintended negative consequences for beneficiaries.

The primary concern is the elimination of the “stretch” IRA. Before the new law, those who inherited an IRA could draw out the funds over their own lifetimes, thus stretching the deferral of income taxes until withdrawal. Beginning in 2020, all assets within an inherited IRA must be withdrawn by beneficiaries within ten years, with all associated taxes paid at withdrawal.

Certain exceptions to the new rule do exist: Spouses who inherit IRAs are not subject to the ten-year rule; nor are minor children or children who are disabled or chronically ill. When minor children reach age 18, the ten-year rule then applies (essentially requiring all withdrawals be made by age 28).

In the past, stretching out distributions from inherited IRAs essentially meant that beneficiaries could leave assets in the account to compound over time while deferring income taxes. Since all assets must now be withdrawn within ten years of the original account owner’s death, unless an exception applies, estate planning may need to be adjusted or rethought to address the changes to retirement planning under the new law. Without proactive planning, beneficiaries might face difficulties with regards to tax or financial planning.

In light of the changing law, which took effect January 1, all estate plans should be reviewed and necessary changes made. IRA owners should consider:

  • Beneficiary designations
  • Potential tax implications for beneficiaries
  • Revision of the will
  • The possibility of establishing a trust as beneficiary of IRA assets, or altering an existing trust

Given the broad scope of the SECURE Act and sweeping changes enacted by the law, certain other actions may be necessary with regard to planning for IRAs. Call our estate planning attorney for more information regarding the new legislation and its impact upon your particular circumstances.

This content is not to be construed as legal advice, and given that some information can become outdated, no representations are made that the content is error-free. The content and interpretation of the law addressed herein is subject to revision. We disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this site to the fullest extent permitted by law. Do not act or refrain from acting upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

Who Makes Health Care or Financial Decisions for You or Your Family in a Pandemic?

It is no secret that we have entered a new world, and in times of crisis most of us share similar fears and concerns. We are all worried about our families, our friends, and our financial well being. We all are asking ourselves the same questions: What happens if I get sick? What happens if my children, spouse or other relatives get sick, become incapacitated or even die? In times of crisis (especially a health crisis) there is no substitute for having good information and planning ahead. Is your family prepared?

Until now, it is unlikely that you picture your children or spouse enduring a serious medical emergency. If you do, you write it off as normal parental or familial anxiety. But the unfortunate truth is that, yes, anyone of any age could be effected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Due to HIPAA regulations, you might be shocked to discover that the hospital will not discuss your child’s treatment, nor allow you to make certain decisions regarding their medical care, if he or she has reached age 18. This is true even if your child is still covered by your family health insurance plan, and it is also true relative to decisions regarding your spouse, parents, or family friends.

If your adult child, spouse or parent is conscious and able to sign a document, they can give authorization to share details of their treatment with you (or with anyone else of their choosing). This obviously isn’t an option if your adult child, spouse or parent is unconscious, intubated, in too much pain, or sedated for treatment. You all might find yourselves wishing this authorization could have been given at some prior time.

With proper planning you can do exactly that. Here are key documents that can save you undue disruption and heartache, should a time come when you will need them.

HIPAA Authorization. Your relative or even a close friend can sign this form and file it with their primary medical provider. If your child, spouse, parent or friend names you on the document, doctors and nurses can discuss their medical care with you. If your relative or friend is nervous about privacy issues, remind them that only information pertinent to the emergency will be discussed. A HIPAA authorization does not necessarily grant you free access to their entire medical file. Your child can specify that sensitive information about their sex life or mental health treatment, for example, are not to be shared.

Advance Health Care Directive. An Advance Health Care Directive provides a medical power of attorney that means you will be able to make medical decisions on behalf of your child, spouse, parent or friends, in the event that he or she is incapacitated. This document also states the individual’s wishes regarding life-sustaining interventions, end of life decisions, and even organ donor wishes.

Durable power of attorney. Durable power of attorney extends rights a bit further, allowing you to take care of financial matters and other non-medical matters during your friend or relative’s illness. You can take care of certain important matters, like filing taxes, paying bills, managing student loan money, and so on.

If you have a son or daughter who has returned home from college, is just turning 18, or any one close to you that does not already have these documents in place, discuss the importance of these matters.

During this time of incredible uncertainty our attorneys stand ready to assist you with all of your immediate estate planning needs. We are currently available for remote meetings and available to answer your questions. In times of crisis and uncertainty information is power, and there is no substitute for good planning. We are here to help.

Estate Planning Without Hassle? California’s Revocable Transfer on Death Deeds

For virtually every estate planning need, there is a legal solution. However, with every legal solution there are pros and cons. For those who wish to transfer California real property without the hassle of probate court, a “revocable transfer on death deed” may be a simple way to accomplish that goal. But does it make sense for you?

What is a Revocable Transfer on Death Deed? In 2016, Assembly Bill 139 (“A.B. 139”) went into effect in California. A.B. 139 provides California real property owners with the ability to quickly and inexpensively transfer California real property without the need for an estate plan or will, while still avoiding the probate process. A revocable transfer on death deed (“TOD Deed”) is a type of deed with “testamentary effect” (meaning it avoids probate) allowing for the quick transfer of real property upon the owner’s death. The deed must be recorded during the owner’s life, is revocable, and does not affect ownership rights while the owner is alive. Once properly executed this deed is recorded in the county in which the property is located, and theoretically once the owner dies the real property transfers to the named beneficiary or beneficiaries.

What are the Pros of using a Revocable Transfer on Death Deed? TOD Deeds are theoretically a less expensive option than traditional estate planning. The idea being, that a California real property owner can complete and record a TOD Deed without the need for an attorney, or more comprehensive (and costly) estate planning. Further, a properly executed and recorded TOD Deed will avoid the time and expense of the probate process. Moreover, the original property owner enjoys full control over the property during their life.

From a tax perspective, the TOD Deed is not considered a transfer during life so there is no present gift and no need to file a gift tax return with the IRS. Additionally, because completing and recording a TOD Deed is not a present gift, it allows the beneficiary to receive a “stepped up” basis for tax purposes, potentially saving the named beneficiary significant capital gain taxes if the beneficiary choses to sell the property. Finally, completing and recording a TOD Deed does not affect real property taxes or cause reassessment during the original owner’s life.

What are the Cons of using a Revocable Transfer of Death Deed? To begin with, A.B. 139 is still relatively new law, so there are still many unknowns, and to complicate matters many commentators believe the law was poorly drafted. In fact, the law is currently only effective for a “trial” period through January 1, 2021. There are also technical requirements and limitations that must be followed carefully and require consultation with a lawyer to avoid costly mistakes. For example, the TOD Deed can only be used for single family homes (four units or less) and condominium units, or single family residences on agricultural property of 40 acres or less. Also, a TOD Deed must be recorded within 60-days of its execution, and is not effective for any real property that is held in joint tenancy.

From an estate planning perspective, the real property transferred pursuant to a TOD Deed could still be subject to probate court if the named beneficiary predeceases the original owner. Further, the TOD Deed will take precedence over a will or trust, which many people may not want or understand. This result is potentially compounded by the fact that a TOD Deed cannot be revoked (at least not without court intervention) after the original owner becomes incapacitated. If the named beneficiary under the TOD Deed is a minor upon the death of the original owner, then a court-appointed custodian will be granted control and management of the property until the beneficiary reaches majority. This court-supervised process is expensive, time consuming and without alternatives.

Finally, California real property transferred pursuant to a TOD Deed will be subject to creditor claims of the original owner. Moreover, the named beneficiary can be held personally liable for all unsecured debts (e.g., mortgages and taxes). In addition to the vulnerability to general creditor claims, property transferred by TOD Deed may also be subject to “estate recovery” for Medi-Cal benefit claims by the State.

While the TOD Deed might be the right choice in limited situations, and A.B. 139 was certainly created in order to help some people avoid the probate process, it should not be utilized without careful consideration and a solid legal analysis of the property owner’s goals and objectives. In general, the TOD Deed is not as predictable, flexible or effective in avoiding court intervention as intended, and the revocable living trust still remains the best way to avoid probate and ensure for the efficient distribution of California real property.

For more information on TOD Deeds, contact our estate planning attorney. Together we can decide if this estate planning tool is right for your situation, and help you discover other methods of avoiding probate.

When Is Retaining a Professional Fiduciary a Good Idea?

When we think of estate planning, we often view it as a series of decisions that we make about personal finances, burial arrangements, and other affairs to be managed after our death. However, while after death decisions are certainly important, another important part of estate planning involves preparing for the management of our financial and personal affairs if we become ill or otherwise unable to make certain decisions.

Family members are a common choice for filling these important roles. Examples are making healthcare decisions or managing financial matters. But in some situations, a professional fiduciary might be the better choice. You might consider a professional fiduciary if:

You don’t know anyone who is right for the job. Perhaps you don’t have adult children, they live far away, you’re uncertain of their decision-making abilities, or there is some other reason they are not up for the task of managing your financial and medical affairs. In the absence of other family members or friends who can fill this role, a professional fiduciary might be a wise choice.

You want to avoid conflict within the family. Perhaps you’re fortunate to have many family members who would make an excellent choice in time of need. But you don’t want to trigger hard feelings by choosing only one, or you’re worried about conflicts between them. A professional fiduciary won’t be affected by the emotional issues that often accompany these serious situations.

You hope to avoid conflicts of interest. Decision making can be impacted by strong emotions. A professional fiduciary won’t be subject to the same pitfalls; he or she can calmly and rationally make the decisions that you have detailed beforehand.

If you do decide to designate a professional fiduciary:

  • Ask for their license number, status, and expiration date
  • Double-check this information with the California Department of Consumer Affairs Professional Fiduciaries Bureau
  • Inquire about the value of client assets managed by the fiduciary, past bankruptcy information, and case removal information
  • Work closely with your estate planning attorney to draw up the proper legal documents

For more information on professional fiduciaries, their responsibilities, and your rights, call our estate planning attorney to schedule a consultation. We can help you weigh your options and make recommendations to assist you with your specific goals and objectives.

How Does Divorce Affect Estate Planning?

Divorce can impact every area of your life. Not surprisingly, those effects extend to any trust and estate planning that was established prior to, or during the marriage. Regardless of whether a revocable or irrevocable trust was established as part of a comprehensive estate plan, what will happen to your existing trust(s) and the assets held in within them should be part of the agreement between the divorcing couple

Revocable trusts.

Generally, most typical estate plans utilize a revocable trust as the primary planning tool to efficiently hold title to assets during your life. A revocable trust allows the owners of the trust to maintain control over assets placed within it. At any time, you can legally “revoke” the trust; hence the name. If there is a revocable trust in place at the time of divorce, how to deal with the trust and the assets held by the same should become part of the divorce agreement, just as with any other asset. The divorcing couple can opt to revoke the trust, or possibly modify it in some way to provide a way to manage jointly held post-divorce assets. These issues will require negotiation, and the final agreement between the divorcing parties should address how the parties will deal with the estate planning.

If the trust was inherited from another party, division of the asset during divorce will generally depend upon whom was listed as a beneficiary. If both spouses are named beneficiaries, then trust assets must be divided pursuant to the terms of the trust document. If only one spouse is a named beneficiary of the trust, then it will likely be awarded to that individual as his or her own personal asset.

Irrevocable trusts.

As for irrevocable trusts, we often say, “what’s gone is gone.” This is because, generally, when you form and fund an irrevocable trust you are irrevocably giving your assets away to the trust. For example, most trust terms and named beneficiaries cannot be changed. Further, the assets held in an irrevocable trust can only be transferred, sold or otherwise disposed of pursuant to the trust terms.

In most cases, an irrevocable trust established by a married couple is intended for the benefit of children, either as an irrevocable life insurance trust (sometimes referred to as a “ILIT”), or as a vehicle to provide for children, grandchildren or special needs beneficiaries. As long as neither party has access to the trust, this should be a non-issue in a divorce. This is why it is often recommended that a third party trustee be appointed to manage irrevocable trust assets. If there is a third party trustee in place at the time of divorce, the parties can generally rest assured that children, grandchildren or special needs beneficiaries will still inherit the assets as originally intended.

Divorce and estate planning can become complicated issues. Since each situation is unique, we recommend that you consult with an estate planning attorney, along with your family law attorney and a CPA or tax attorney if you have questions about the effect of divorce on your estate planning. With the proper team of estate, family and tax law professionals, you will receive valuable guidance on what to expect should a divorce occur. They can help guide you through the emotional and often complex process.

How Does Divorce Affect Estate Planning?

Divorce can impact every area of your life. Not surprisingly, those effects extend to any trust and estate planning that was established prior to, or during the marriage. Regardless of whether a revocable or irrevocable trust was established as part of a comprehensive estate plan, what will happen to your existing trust(s) and the assets held in within them should be part of the agreement between the divorcing couple

Revocable trusts.

Generally, most typical estate plans utilize a revocable trust as the primary planning tool to efficiently hold title to assets during your life. A revocable trust allows the owners of the trust to maintain control over assets placed within it. At any time, you can legally “revoke” the trust; hence the name. If there is a revocable trust in place at the time of divorce, how to deal with the trust and the assets held by the same should become part of the divorce agreement, just as with any other asset. The divorcing couple can opt to revoke the trust, or possibly modify it in some way to provide a way to manage jointly held post-divorce assets. These issues will require negotiation, and the final agreement between the divorcing parties should address how the parties will deal with the estate planning.

If the trust was inherited from another party, division of the asset during divorce will generally depend upon whom was listed as a beneficiary. If both spouses are named beneficiaries, then trust assets must be divided pursuant to the terms of the trust document. If only one spouse is a named beneficiary of the trust, then it will likely be awarded to that individual as his or her own personal asset.

Irrevocable trusts.

As for irrevocable trusts, we often say, “what’s gone is gone.” This is because, generally, when you form and fund an irrevocable trust you are irrevocably giving your assets away to the trust. For example, most trust terms and named beneficiaries cannot be changed. Further, the assets held in an irrevocable trust can only be transferred, sold or otherwise disposed of pursuant to the trust terms.

In most cases, an irrevocable trust established by a married couple is intended for the benefit of children, either as an irrevocable life insurance trust (sometimes referred to as a “ILIT”), or as a vehicle to provide for children, grandchildren or special needs beneficiaries. As long as neither party has access to the trust, this should be a non-issue in a divorce. This is why it is often recommended that a third party trustee be appointed to manage irrevocable trust assets. If there is a third party trustee in place at the time of divorce, the parties can generally rest assured that children, grandchildren or special needs beneficiaries will still inherit the assets as originally intended.

Divorce and estate planning can become complicated issues. Since each situation is unique, we recommend that you consult with an estate planning attorney, along with your family law attorney and a CPA or tax attorney if you have questions about the effect of divorce on your estate planning. With the proper team of estate, family and tax law professionals, you will receive valuable guidance on what to expect should a divorce occur. They can help guide you through the emotional and often complex process.

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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