This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.
Where should you store your estate planning documents?
Now that you’ve drafted your documents, where should you store them? Who should know about them? Estate planning instruments, such as a Florida Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and HIPAA, in a safe and accessible location. It is important to have the original Will, so what we do with the documents after we sign them is essential. A copy can potentially be admitted to probate, but this tends to elongate and complicate the process. After all, better safe than sorry.
If the location requires a password or lock, be sure to notify people you trust. Information you may want to relay include the location, how to access the documents, and perhaps any passwords or locks necessary to access the documents.
Common locations we recommend include:
Safe deposit box
With an attorney
A locked filing cabinet
In Florida, there is a presumption that lost or damaged Wills are revoked by the testator (that is the person whose Will is it). In order to ensure the property you’ve bequeathed in your Will gets properly devised, it is important to exercise great care when handling these documents, long after they’ve been signed.
No matter whether you choose to take your documents home, leave them with your attorney, or safeguard them in a home safe or Safe Deposit Box at a bank, the most important takeaway is to tell your loved ones where it is. We spend a great deal of time, money, and emotional investment when making decisions about our Wills, but if no one knows where your documents are, or if they don’t have the tools to access them, it may take much longer than anticipated to gain access to them, if ever.