Keeping your will stored safely and effectively is key to ensuring a smooth transition when it matters most.
For those that work at home, keeping your personal, financial and personal documents organized and separate from your work life can be a challenge. It’s not difficult, however, to make sure important documents like your will are properly stored in the house to avoid issues down the road.
While many factors contribute to the creation and execution of a will, secure storage for your will is one of the most important.
Without taking the proper precautions when it comes to storing your will, you open yourself up to potential legal complications in the future, as the original copy of your will needs to be presented in probate court if you want your estate plans to proceed. Such complications can lead to costly delays in the execution of your will, or possibly even the refusal to acknowledge its validity by a probate court.
Here are some useful tips on how to safely store your will.
A Personal Safe
A small safe kept in your home is the perfect place to keep your will. Be sure to get a safe that can survive fire and water.
Share the location of the key or pass code to the safe with someone you trust, such as a family member or spouse, which will allow them to retrieve your will should the need arise. Giving this information to your attorney is another good option that many people choose.
You may be wondering about storing your will in a safe deposit box located inside a bank. While this can work, it can also lead to potential issues when the time comes to get your will out of storage.
Those who seek to retrieve your will, regardless of whether or not you’ve given them consent to do so, may be required by the bank to provide an order from the court in exchange for entry into the safe deposit box.
Make Signed Copies
Signed copies of your will are necessary to the security of your estate. These official copies will help your estate to remain valid in the eyes of the court should the original copy be destroyed or missing.
Give signed copies of your will to one or two people you trust, as well as your attorney, who will file it away safely and be able to retrieve it immediately should any problems arise.
By doing these simple things now, you can ensure that your estate plans will unfold exactly as you desire. This will lead to peace of mind for you, as well as comfort and security for your loved ones.
“Depending on where you live, the county clerk may store the original copy of your will for a nominal fee,” writes Stephanie Morrow at LegalZoom. “Although this may sound like a fail-safe solution for storing your last will, your named executor and beneficiaries may not consider the court when looking for the original will unless they are specifically told.”
You can also give a copy of your will to your estate planning attorney, who will ensure that everything is taken care of properly. “I advise clients never to personally retain their own wills, but to keep them either with me (which is why I have a large vault filled with such instruments) or in a box maintained by the named executor or a controlled corporation or other entity to which there will be access after their deaths,” says attorney Alan P. Bernstein.
Updating your Will
If you decide to make changes to your will after signing it, make sure to destroy all previous copies. If you are storing the document, put the updated will in its place. If you are storing it at the county clerk or your attorney’s office, make sure you contact them and provide updated copies. This step will help avoid confusion and make sure your wishes are followed.