Congrats! You've signed your estate planning documents! Now, the question is where to keep them? This is a common question for all families because you know it's important to keep your documents in a safe, secure, and accessible place.
You've heard the stories of a family member's will being found taped to the back of a family picture or hidden in a safe buried in the barn. These are not the safe, secure and accessible places ideal for storing important documents. You want these documents in a place where they can be gathered and read in a timely manner when and if needed.
Here are a few options:
- Safe deposit box - This is a very safe and secure location, but it's not very accessible to your family. If you are the only one with the key to the box, the bank may not give your family members access when they need it. If you're going to use a safe deposit box, make sure your family knows where they key is and also speak to the bank to make sure they can have access when it matters.
- Fire proof safe - This is definitely a safe and secure location, but again, is it accessible? Do family members know where the safe is? Do they have the code?
- The place where you keep other important documents - Do you have a file cabinet or desk drawer where important papers go? This is a great place for estate planning documents. They are accessible when needed and could be considered safe and secure if properly locked and stored.
- Leave a copy with the executor of your estate - When planning, you likely had a conversation with the person who will be the executor of your estate. Think about if you feel comfortable storing a copy with this person in the case of an emergency.
- Leave a copy with the person or family who will have temporary custody of your minor children - If you are a family with minor children, consider leaving a sealed copy of your documents with this person or family. In the terrible circumstance that something happens to you and your children need to be taken care of immediately, this location is a good option because they can get the ball rolling and involve other family members if needed.
The bottom line is that these important documents need to be kept in a safe, secure, and accessible location that your loved ones can access. You've taken time to document the legacy you want to leave, make sure your wishes are followed.