Normally, a client’s first response is the safety deposit box. No, no, no. Bad idea. The LAST thing that you want to have happen is to get into a car accident at 5:30 on a Friday evening and have your Power of Attorney documents locked away in a bank vault with no way for anyone to get to it until 9 a.m. Monday morning.
So, where should I be keeping my documents?
You want your original documents in a place where your trustee knows where they are kept and where they are easily reached. It can be on a shelf in a home office or a particular drawer where you keep important papers. A fireproof safe or filing cabinet is also fine to store them in – as long as the trustee can get to those documents if they need to quickly.
Another thing that we recommend is making copies of the originals. If you have a regular physician, they should have a copy of your Healthcare Power of Attorney and your Living Will, so they know who they need to get in touch with in case of an emergency.
We also suggest that your trustee have current access to your estate documents. This can sometimes be a little touchy because, for example, Dad may list his son as the Power of Attorney, but he doesn’t necessarily want to give his child access to all his personal estate documents right away unless there is an emergency and he needs to step in. You can use your discretion and how much to reveal, but minimum access at least means copies of the Power of Attorney documents.
We take precautions to safeguard your documents.
We make it very easy for our clients to access their estate documents by executing two sets of originals. One set of documents is filed in a Trust binder that is given to them when they leave our office. We keep the second set of originals, which are scanned so that they are available to our clients in case they need us to email them at a moment’s notice. Having these safeguards in place is necessary when we receive calls from family members saying that they cannot find Mom’s or Dad’s original documents and need access to that second set.
If you have any other questions regarding the storage of estate documents or need any additional estate planning information, just call my office. We have caring and friendly staff that is here to help.