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Where to Store Your Will and Other Estate Planning Documents

By Howard C. Stross
January 10, 2014

After you’ve signed your will, the next important decision is where to store your will and other original estate planning documents. Your loved ones need to be able to easily find the original documents when needed. Downton Abbey fans who tuned in to the two hour season premiere last week can tell you what not to do. It was a bad idea for Matthew to not tell anyone about his estate plan and then hide a letter in a book in his office. Below are some much better ideas for where to store your will:

Safe Deposit Box. A safe deposit box may be one the best places to store your original documents. However, if the box is in just your name and no one else is a signer, then your family will need a court order to open up the box and remove your estate planning documents. Without another signer on the box, if you become disabled or when you pass away, no one will have immediate access. If you place your original estate planning documents in a safe deposit box, add a trusted individual to the signature card so they can access the original documents.

A water-proof and fire-proof safe in your house. Another option is a safe in your house. Make sure your loved one has a key into your house, knows where the safe is, and knows the combination or where the key to the safe is. Unlike Matthew in Downton Abbey, you should tell your loved ones where you store your will and other important documents. If not, they may just box up your books.

What happens if the original cannot be found? In Florida, if the original will cannot be found at the time of your death, the presumption will be that you intended to destroy it. You may be considered to have died intestate, which means without a will or other estate plan. As Downton Abbey fans can tell you, your heirs at law may not be who you want your estate to go to. Another blog will discuss who Florida law will leave your estate to.

If the originals are destroyed inadvertently, contact your estate planning attorney to re-sign your documents. As we go through life, things happen. It is important to periodically review your estate plan. When you review your plan, you should also review where to store your will and other original estate planning documents. Stross Law Firm offers an estate planning maintenance program, Peace Of Mind A Life Plan for Everyone, so you can make sure that your estate plan is kept up-to-date. If a hurricane floods your important documents, you have a fire, or you simply cannot find the originals, we can help you. If you can’t find your original documents, or want to update your estate plan, call our Florida estate planning attorneys at 813-852-6500.

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