Congratulations, you have finally signed your estate planning documents. Now, where do you keep them?
Most people prefer for their attorney to hold the original documents. This prevents these important documents from being misplaced in your house. It also keeps the documents away from meddling family members and nosy house staff.
Due to the high costs of storage and the move to paperless offices, some attorneys are now having their clients hold the original documents. While this reduces the overhead cost for the attorney to handle and store the documents, it leaves the client with the dilemma of where to put the original documents.
If your attorney is in that camp, or if you just prefer to hold the originals yourself, you will need a safe and secure place for them. Here are some options.
Skip the safe deposit box. Do not put the original documents in a safe deposit box because the authority to get into the box is in the box. If you die or are incapacitated and no one else has access to the safe deposit box, they will need court authority to get into the box. To obtain that court authority, they need the documents in the box. It’s like a chicken or egg scenario.
Invest in a fireproof safe. You can keep your original documents in a file cabinet in your home or office, but a fireproof safe is your best bet.
Make sure you have copies. You should also have a set of hard copies in another location easily accessible to you. A safe deposit box is a great place for a set of copies of your documents. Your attorney should maintain a set of hard copies as well.