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Storage of Estate Planning Documents

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Storage of Estate Planning Documents

It is essential that you know where your original estate planning documents are kept and that those individuals that you have named to act as your successor Trustee, Personal Representative, Health Care Agent and Power of Attorney know where the original documents are stored. Here are some tips regarding storage of your estate planning documents:

For original documents, file your original will and any original subsequent codicils at Probate Court in the county in which you reside. If probate needs to be started for your estate and the original will cannot be located, your estate will have no choice but to proceed with formal probate, which is more expensive than informal probate. In addition, by filing the originals and any codicils with Probate Court that negates the probability of someone successfully claiming that you made a different will or different codicil.

While it is best practice to file the original will and codicils at Probate Court, you also can store those documents at a bank in a safe deposit box or in a safe that is fireproof in your home. While some practitioners advise to store those documents in a locked file cabinet that is generally not advisable due to the possibility of fire.

Similarly to storing original wills and codicils at a bank in a safe deposit box or in a fireproof safe in your home, you also can store in a safe deposit box or a safe your original trusts, health care directives and power of attorneys. Regardless of where you store your original documents, it is necessary that your successor trustee, Personal Representative, Health Care Agent and Power of Attorney know where the documents are stored and how to obtain access to the originals when needed (note: you will need to provide them with the lock combination for the safe or name them at your bank on your safe deposit box). If your Attorney-in-Fact cannot produce your original power of attorney your copy will be invalid and unusable.

In addition to storing the original estate planning documents, it is important that you store and maintain copies of the estate planning documents. It is recommended that you keep and maintain an electronic copy and also at least one photocopy of each document and store them along with your original documents in the same place (note: the exception is Probate Court) and also store them in a separate place from the original documents.

You also need to provide a copy of your health care directive to each of your medical providers. In addition, it is prudent that you keep a copy of your health care directive in a Ziploc freezer bag and store it in your kitchen freezer. The reason is because generally that is where EMTs look if they have to respond to an emergency medical call to your home.

Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP assists business owners and individuals with estate planning, including wills, trusts, power of attorneys, and health care directives.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.