Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Safely Share & Store Your Estate Planning Documents

I recently executed a trust, pour-over will, living will, and power of attorney. What is the best way to store these documents, and should I make copies? 

Congratulations on taking this important step toward a solid financial future for your family, loved ones and/or charities of your choice.  Now that your documents are signed, witnessed and notarized, what’s next?

Being that original estate planning documents are required in many scenarios, including opening an estate or utilizing a power of attorney, it is extremely important to keep these papers preserved in a secure location for safekeeping. The following explains some best practices post-execution, as well as suggestions on what to do if you have further questions about your estate plan or need to make a change in a certain area. 

Storage and preservation of documents

Many times, couples execute an estate plan when their children are young, and forget all about the documents for several decades. Depending on the type of paper used, these documents can begin to fade and wither, thereby inviting possible objections or skepticism when it comes time to register the will and administer the estate.

Estate planning documents should be stored in a cool, dry, preferably dark place, such as a filing cabinet or fireproof lock box. Keeping these documents in a storage unit or the basement is not the best idea, as mold, rodents, and the weather can introduce damage and destruction. 

Likewise, storing your documents in a safe deposit box is not always advised, as only the owners of the box will be able to access the documents in a time of need. If your documents are needed in an emergency situation, the bank will not allow just anyone to retrieve the contents of the box without express written authorization by all owners – which can introduce major inconvenience in an already-stressful situation. 

Sharing copies of your documents

As experienced estate planning attorneys, we always advise our clients to make copies of their powers of attorney, as it will be very important to ensure all agents are aware of their role. With regard to a living will (i.e., advance healthcare directive or healthcare power of attorney), be sure to provide a copy to all healthcare providers in the event important decisions must be made on your behalf. With regard to your power of attorney, be sure to distribute a copy to each of your agents, as well as to your bank and financial advisors. 

For more information about estate planning, or to make a change to an old estate plan, please contact the experienced will and trust attorneys at Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC, by calling (501) 482-1787. 

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