Tips on Keeping Estate Planning Documents Safe

After creating an estate plan, you might think that you’ve made all of the steps necessary to plan for your future. 


Instead, it is just as important to make sure that estate planning documents are stored in a safe location. This article reviews some of the various options that people utilize to make sure that estate planning documents are safely stored.


# 1 – A Lawyer Holds the Documents


Many estate planning attorneys hold copies of estate planning document in that firm’s vault. While these vaults were once primarily bank safes, today a growing number of law firms use locked cabinets. 


It is particularly common in cities where real estate is expensive to move original documents to offsite facilities where documents can be safely stored. 


Many people find this an advantageous option because it avoids the risk of losing documents in a person’s home. Additionally, by storing documents outside of a person’s home, it is possible to reduce the risk of family members snooping.


# 2 – Hold Documents on Your Own


Due in part to the costs associated with storing estate planning at a third party location, 

many lawyers now tell clients to hold on to original documents. 


This means that it is often up to each individual to determine where the store original estate planning documents. Some of the locations that are worth considering if you’d like to make sure that estate planning documents are safely maintained include:


  • Avoid placing the original copies of estate planning documents into a safety deposit box. While it was once common advice to store documents in this way, if something happens to you and your loved ones are left without a way to access the safety deposit box, they will need to petition a court to provide access.
  • Wherever you ultimately decide to place estate planning documents, it is a wise idea to consider using fireproof storage.
  • Make sure to retain multiple copies of estate planning documents. When it comes to storing a copy of these documents, a safety deposit box can be a wise idea.
  • Wherever you decide to store original copies of estate planning documents, you should make sure to inform your loved ones.
  • It’s becoming increasingly copy for people to hold on to e-records. Your attorney should make a copy of your estate plans and send you an electronic version of these documents, which you can hold onto.
  • Remember that if your original estate planning documents are lost, it is often still possible to use photocopies. In many situations, provided the originals cannot be found, it is possible to navigate the probate process with copied documents. 
  • Remember that the estate planning process is not a once and over process. Instead, realize that you might be required to create new estate planning documents every few years. 


Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about how estate plans should be maintained, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney. Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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