Where Is The Will? Choosing A Resting Place For Your Estate Plans
Being proactive and making a complete estate plan is laudable. It's so much easier on your loved ones when you've already made the decisions about how your property is to be disbursed, your burial plans, and other important estate tasks. Having a good plan may not be enough, though. You will need to ensure that your loved ones can easily access what they need to make your final arraignments and administer your estate. It also needs to be in a safe and secure location for privacy's sake. If the worst happens and your estate plans cannot be found after your death, strangers (the probate courts) will be making important decisions for your loved ones. For some ideas on places to keep your final wishes, read on.
Safe At Home
Home is the natural place for important estate documents like a will. Many keep their papers in a file cabinet or a desk drawer. If the drawers are usually locked, be sure you provide the key to someone or that it can be located with your other keys. You might want to make things a bit more secure by keeping paperwork in a firebox. These boxes are a good way to keep things safe from fire and water intrusion. Unfortunately, thieves may take the box with them if it can be easily found and carried away. Home safes are another alternative that may be the most secure but may make it more difficult for loved ones to access if no one else knows the combination.
Safe deposit boxes at banking institutions are a popular way to store important documents of all types. They are secure and safe but not easily accessible. Banks are not open all hours or days of the week, and it could be days before the family can access the bank box. Be sure to tell family members about the bank box and provide them with a key. Keeping in mind that there could be a delay in accessing the documents, keep your funeral and burial instructions in a separate, more convenient location.
With Family Members
Some people provide loved ones with copies of the will and estate plan right away. This may or may not work for you, but it does prevent surprises and anxiety about locating the documents. Since a major part of an estate plan is to choose a personal representative (executor), it might be a good idea to leave a copy of your plans with this chosen person ahead of time.
The estate or probate lawyer that assists you with your plans may also have copies of some or all of the important documents needed to administer your estate. They will also have some additional tips on making your plans accessible to your loved ones. Speak to an estate or will attorney for more information.