You have taken the time to make sure all your estate papers are filled out carefully. You have left nothing out, and nobody is forgotten, right down to your pet birds.
You have a safe deposit box at the bank that you have done business with for years, and you feel your papers are secure.
You let your family know where you have stored your essential estate papers, but you still have not gotten around to letting anyone know the details regarding how to access them.
So, what happens if you become seriously ill or pass away?
A Safe Deposit Box
A safe deposit box is only accessible to the person who has their name on the lease, which means that even if your family members know what bank to go to, they will need a court order to gain access to your box.
Your estate planning forms may be safe, but they are perhaps too safe. Without access to this paperwork, the courts will act as though you never filled out the paperwork.
If you do go this route, consider having someone you trust designated as a co-signer on the lease.
As long as you have a place that is safe from both water and fire, your original estate planning forms can be stored safely at home.
Some people use an actual safe, but you will need to make sure a trusted person has the combination to that safe. A more practical alternative would be a portable lock box that meets fire and water safety standards.
A file cabinet or even a spot on your bookshelf are all perfectly safe places where the papers can be easily stored and retrieved if necessary.
With a Lawyer/Executor/Family
Copies of all the relevant estate planning forms should also be given to either your chosen estate executor, a family member that you trust or your lawyer, at least one of whom should have the information needed to access the original papers.
Having copies will at least help speed up the process of taking care of business matters. Just make sure that any changes you may decide to put in place in the future are also made on the available copies.
Otherwise, the estate may end up in a courtroom because of the discrepancies.
Some places offer a way to store documents virtually. While the originals cannot be stored online, having a copy available until the originals can be obtained will help make things easier for those who need to see that things get done.
Just make sure there is at least one trusted person who has the information, such as a password, so that the data can be retrieved quickly and easily.
Make sure you can access your estate plan in digital format.
Whether you are looking for someone to do the work or you need some questions answered to make sure you are on the correct path, talk with an experienced estate lawyer.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.