Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Make Sure Your Estate Plan is Disaster Proof

How should I store my estate planning documents to protect against natural disasters?


This past year, parts of the nation were struck by horrific natural disasters. In California, multiple wild fires resulted in thousands of families losing their homes and the destruction of entire towns. In North Carolina, Hurricane Florence caused extensive flooding in some regions, forcing families to start over. Meanwhile, Hurricane Michael became the most powerful storm to ever hit the panhandle, causing thousands of residents in communities in the area to lose their homes and businesses. These tragedies highlight the sad fact that in a moment, your possessions could be destroyed. Those with an estate plan should take care to guard against the possible destruction of their vital documents. Our Arkansas estate planning attorneys discuss steps you can take to disaster proof your estate plan below.

Keep Copies of Your Vital Documents

One of the first things you will want to do is determine whether you have copies or access to all of your critical estate planning and related documents. You should have copies of all of your legal documents. This should include your powers of attorney, will, trusts, and HIPAA waivers. It should further include documents like the title to your home, your vehicle, and documentation regarding any other important assets, as well as insurance information. Having copies of all of these documents will prove crucial should you pass away unexpectedly, as your heirs will need access to these documents.

Consider Where to Store Your Estate Plan

Once you have gathered all of your important documents, or visited an estate planning attorney to get started creating these critical documents, you will now have to select where to store them. While it may be tempting to simply put your estate planning documents away in a desk drawer, this leaves your estate plan exposed in the event of a disaster. Fires, floods, tornadoes, and the like could all destroy your stowed estate plan. Having one original or copies of your estate plan in your home, in a place that your heirs could readily access them, is a good idea. Placing them within a fireproof safe that your heirs know the code to is even better. You should, however, consider placing an original of these documents with your estate planning attorney. Your estate planning attorney can easily be contacted by your heirs should they be unable to find your documents. In this manner, there is a better chance that at least one copy of your documents will survive any disaster that comes your way.

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