Estate planning is an important task. Once you have a comprehensive plan in place, though, consider making it easier for your descendants to locate it. Estate plans can encompass a wide range of different documents, and each one deserves a safe and secure place to reside.
In Your Home
It's undeniably convenient to keep estate papers in your home. However, you should consider what could happen if your home were to become unsafe. For example, natural disasters like tornados and floods can ruin your estate plans. Fire is a potential hazard also. Another issue to consider with housing your estate plan in your home is that your loved ones may not know where to look unless you clue them in.
If you decide to use your home for your estate plan, follow these tips to ensure that your plan remains safe and easy to locate:
- Use a fire-safe and waterproof box or safe for your papers rather than locking them in a filing cabinet or desk drawer. Be sure and let your loved ones know where the box is located and how to gain access to it.
- Consider whether your firebox or safe can be a target for thieves. They might not be able to get into the box and decide to take it with them in the hopes of finding valuables inside. Built-in safes and fireboxes may be less attractive to thieves.
Safe Deposit Box
Many opt to keep their important papers, including their estate plans, in a safe deposit box at a bank or other financial institution. The vaults that hold safe deposit boxes are usually fortified against the ravages of nature, and they are also safe from thieves. However, there are a few things to remember if you use a safe deposit box for estate paperwork:
- Be sure you add at least one loved one name to the list of people allowed to access the box. Provide that person with a safe deposit box key as well.
- Safe deposit box access is limited to the hours the bank is open. Many are not open on weekends, in the evening, and on holidays. That issue could cause a delay in accessing the paperwork needed to make the final arrangements.
It's never a bad idea to make copies of important papers and put them in a safe place in your home. That allows loved ones to access information if the bank is closed.
Talk to a local estate planning attorney for more information.