Written by Robert T. Nickerson
Todays the day! You've signed your last signature and your lawyer has sent you home with your estate plan. So what to do with them?
A lot of lawyers (including Jeffrey Nickerson) will hold your original documents at the office in locked, safe cabinets that clients can have access to anytime. If anything, it's recommended, in case copies of certain documents were needed for other family members, doctors, caregivers, etc…
People are given the option of having their documents being held onto by their attorney. If you decide to take the estate plan home with you, here are some tips on where to put it.
1. Don't put it in a safety deposit box
As tempting as the idea of it being locked away safe, this is something of a major mistake. The purpose of safety deposit boxes are a way to have access for you, not a lot of people. Should you die or find yourself incapacitated, then someone else will need to get them. Those that don't already have authorization to go into another's safety deposit box will have to get a court order to do so. This is going to be a long and bureaucratic process if this route is soughed out.
2. Think about getting a fireproof safe
This is a smart investment (especially if you live in the tinderbox that is Riverside County). Places like Amazon have a lot of options. Though you could keep an estate plan in a file cabinet or a important items bookshelf, a fireproof safe is the safest bet to make.
3. Make sure you have copies
I've said this before and I'll say it again; make sure copies of your estate plan are made available. But it's also important to have copies in other locations. Do you have an office where you work? That’s a good spot. Do you have a storage facility? That's a good spot. Even a safety deposit box is a good spot for copies (BUT NOT THE ORIGINAL). Your attorney should even have a copy so that the family can go to them in any case.
4. Don't forget your digital records
Like the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Nickerson, your lawyer should give you a digital copy of your estate plan. This is something that not only you should have on your computer or your cloud account (a place where you can access your estate plan information from other computers or smart phones), but this is something that can also go into a fireproof safe.
5. Don't worry if the original gets lost
This is why having copies made are essential. Your family can still carry through your plans with photocopies as long as their updated and the attorney can verify they were made. Otherwise, the attorney is likely to have an on file copy. Otherwise, talk to your attorney and he can have another one printed for you.
6. Just because their done doesn't mean you can put them away forever
As much as you want to forget about it, this is another mistake that people make. An estate plan will reflect the current path for a family. But that's the keyword; current. Plans could easily change in ten or even five years. Take some time to read it to be sure the estate plan is still the way you want to proceed. Grandma may want to do something different from her estate plan that was written in 1987.
Jeffrey C. Nickerson - Estate Planning Attorney - My Passion is Special Needs Planning!