What Should I Do With My Original Estate Documents?

Hill & Kinsella

Years ago, it seemed like all attorneys kept their clients’ original Wills and estate planning documents in a vault in the office. But at that time, most people lived in the same house or town until they died. Today, people are so much more mobile, moving from community to community and state to state, even late in life.

Places to Keep Your Estate Planning Documents

Today, many attorneys, like us, send the original documents home with the client at the time of signing. In our office, unless you are a part of our Trust Care Program we maintain only a digital copy, but there are certain critical times when the original is needed. Some of our clients have ask what they should do with their documents.

Here are a few places that you can keep important legal documents:

  • Your safety deposit box at your bank.
  • At home, in a fireproof box or safe along with other important papers. If you do this, be sure to have a box that can leave with you in case of an evacuation ( a hurricane plan for us here in Florida).
  • Some recommend that if you are certain that you won’t change your nominated personal representative, give them the original Will to hold.

There are potential issues with each choice. You could change banks or forget about the safety deposit box, lose documents in your home, or your personal representative could become unable to serve. Contrary to some beliefs, in Florida, you cannot store your Will with the Clerk of Court. They will not accept a Will unless the person is deceased.

Keep Your Agent Informed

Estate planning is important and does not end with executing your documents. Some take it a step further by making an emergency sheet for trusted agents that includes the names of banks where they do banking and include where the safety deposit box is. You don’t need to include account balances, but account numbers are very important.

On that datasheet, you can also include the following information:

  • The location of your documents
  • The dates the documents were executed
  • The attorney’s contact information
  • List of insurance providers and financial advisors

Get Help with Your Estate Planning Needs

In this kind of situation, we have learned much from our clients. Those who have prepared their own Data/Emergency sheets seemed so much better prepared. Not only did they benefit, but so did those who were named as the agents or personal representatives who were able to use that information to step in and handle things without chaos.

By, Alana Horner

To learn more about the comprehensive estate planning services we offer at HKH Elder Law, please give us a call at (727) 240-2350 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.