Monday, October 5, 2009

Where Should I Store My Will?

Once your will is properly signed and witnessed, you need to store it in a safe place. This location is largely a personal choice, but in every instance, be certain that your executor knows of your chosen storage location, and has access to that location. There are several options, each having some advantages and disadvantages. Consider the following choices, in no particular order of preference:

1. Your own personal fireproof home safe- Your executor will need ready access to the safe, by combination or key, or both.
2. Safe deposit box- Make sure your state law does not require banks to seal the box upon death, and consider who else has access to that box. Be certain your survivors know of this location.
3. Leave it with your lawyer- Some law firms have vaults for such storage of wills and trusts, but some attorneys will not store your will, as they may have concerns about the propriety of this practice; specifically, the concern that a deceased client’s family may feel pressured to use that firm’s services in order to probate the will.
4. The probate court- For a nominal fee, your local probate court may file your will for safekeeping, and produce it only for your named executor, with proof of your death. Consider that this might not be optimal if you happen to move away and perhaps end up retiring in another state.
5. A trust company- If you name a trust company as your estate representative then that company will often hold your will for safekeeping.
** Note that in all cases it is imperative that your survivors be made aware of the location of your will, and that they must have ready access to that location.

In addition to a will, you should also have a Health Care Proxy and a Power of Attorney. Your original Health Care Proxy can be given directly to your chosen nominee, so that there will be no delay if you should become incapacitated. You should keep a copy for your own records.
The safekeeping of a Power of Attorney is a matter best discussed with your lawyer, as there are some serious considerations with this particular instrument. By design, Powers of Attorney are very powerful instruments, and there is always the concern that such a document could be abused in the wrong hands.
I hope that you found this article helpful. Please feel free to call me with your questions or concerns.

**This is only for advertising purposes. It does not create an attorney client relationship. It only provides general information and is not legal advice. Every case is different; you should contact an attorney to discuss your specific situation.