Where Should I Store My Estate Planning Documents?

Creating an estate plan is just the first step in securing the future for your loved ones. After creating your estate plan, you must ensure the documents are stored in a safe location. This will help your family and friends avoid trouble or confusion caused by an inability to locate estate planning documentation. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this common estate planning oversight.

Accessibility Of Your Estate Planning Documents

The most important thing to remember when storing your estate planning documentation is potential accessibility. While you do not want the world to have access to your information, you want to ensure that your chosen representative has access to the documents needed to manage your estate. Do not place the documents in a location that they cannot access. Instead, choose an area within your home or one of the other locations covered in this article that your representative or family member can use at their discretion. 

In A Safe Deposit Box

A safe deposit box at your local bank is often the first place people consider a secure location for important documents or items. While they are secure, it is important to remember that the bank may limit who has access to your accounts and safe deposit boxes after your passing. If you choose to store your estate planning documents at your bank inside a safe deposit box, be sure that your chosen representative is granted permission to open your safe deposit box without you being present.

In A Home Safe

If you are not comfortable utilizing a bank’s safe deposit box or transportation is difficult for you, consider storing your estate planning documentation in a safe kept within your home. A home safe can be purchased online or in-person at a local retailer. 

Once purchased, you can store your estate planning documents inside the safe for your representative to access when necessary. Make sure you tell your representative that the home safe exists and where in your home the safe is located to avoid confusion after your passing. Avoid hiding the safe from your loved ones or failing to give a representative the combination making it difficult for them to access the safe’s contents after your passing.

With Your Estate Planning Attorney

The estate planning attorney overseeing your estate planning needs may also be able to help you when the time comes to store your important documents. Discuss your concerns with your attorney and find out whether or not they can help you. In many cases, your attorney will be able to store copies of your estate planning documents in their office to be given to the executor of your estate after your passing. Using your attorney to help you store your estate planning documents could streamline putting your final affairs in order for your executor and loved ones.

Advance Directive Registry

Establishing health care advance directives as part of your estate planning process ensures that your wishes will be adhered to if you can no longer communicate. Any resident of North Carolina may establish an advance directive and file their documents with the North Carolina Advance Health Care Directive Registry. This will help to avoid confusion by making your loved ones aware of your desires if you are no longer able to effectively communicate with them.

Always Be Vocal

One of the most vitally important things you can do when the time comes to store your estate planning documents is to be vocal about what you are doing. Make sure your executor is aware of the existence of your estate planning documentation and knows where they are stored. Remember, your documents will help no one if they cannot be located. Let your loved ones know where your documents are kept so that they can access them when necessary.

Start Planning Today

Above all else, begin planning for the future today. A delay could create avoidable heartache for your family and friends should something happen to you before you properly create and store your estate planning documents. Decide where you would like to keep copies of your estate plan and notify your authorized representatives of your wishes. Those closest to you will only be able to adhere to your plans if you make them aware of what you want them to do. 

Start the process now by scheduling a consultation with David Anderson and his team – David has the experience and knowledge to help guide you through each step of the estate planning process.

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