Creating an estate plan is something that everyone should do at some point in their adult life. The documents in an estate plan are extremely important. For instance, a well-rounded estate plan would include a Last Will and Testament and a Power of Attorney. These two documents record how you want your assets will be distributed when you pass away, and who can make financial decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself.
Naturally, you’ll want to ensure that these documents are stored in a secure place.
While security is important, you should consider whether these documents will be accessible by the people you’ve trusted to handle your affairs. In this post, we suggest the best places to store your estate planning documents to keep them both safe and accessible to those who need them.
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Where Should I Store My Estate Planning Documents?
Since estate planning documents contain a lot of personal information, many people think the most secure place to store them is in a safety deposit box. While it might seem like a good idea, storing your estate planning documents in a safety deposit box is generally not recommended as the people that will need to access your documents, like your executor, might be prevented from doing so after you pass away.
Ultimately, where you store your documents is up to you. You’ll need to take into account your living situation, any privacy concerns that you might have, and whether the documents will be easy to access for those who need to carry out your estate plan.
If you’re concerned about privacy and don’t feel comfortable storing your documents in a locked cabinet or desk, a personal safe is one alternative. While a personal safe is expensive (often ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars) it is usually a one-time cost, and can protect your documents from things like fires, floods, and theft, depending on the quality and features of the safe. However, a personal safe can also be heavy and large, making it difficult to find an inconspicuous spot to put it, especially if you have a smaller home.
you’ll need to provide your executor (and others that will carry out your estate plan) with the code or the location of the key to the safe so they can access the documents inside when they need to.
Also Read: 3 Common Estate Planning Mistakes
How Can I Make Sure My Estate Planning Documents are Accessible?
The best way to ensure that your estate planning documents will be accessible to people who will need them is to give them instructions as to where the documents are stored, and what they need to do to access them. You can create a document, such as Just-in-Case Instructions, to clearly outline what needs to be done to access your estate plan.
Just-in-Case Instructions are a great way to outline where the documents are stores and how to access them. This helps you retain control over your documents while providing information to those who will need to access them.
Managing your Estate Planning Documents
your estate plan will consist of a variety of personal documents, storing them properly and being mindful of the accessibility of these documents is extremely important to ensure that once you pass away, the people who need access to your documents will be able to find them so they can carry out your wishes as you instructed.