The estate planning process involves creating several important documents, such as wills, living trusts, and inventories of personal property. Once you have all these documents created, it's important to make sure they're stored someplace where they can easily be accessed if needed. If your heirs can't find your estate planning documents after your passing, you will be assumed to have died without a will and your property will be distributed in accordance with your states intestacy laws. In most cases, this means your spouse, children, parents, and/or siblings will inherit your assets.
At first glance, it would seem like a smart move to keep your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box. However, if the box is just in your name without a joint owner, it may require a court order to have the box opened. This means your family will not have immediate access to these important documents, unless you've placed the safe deposit box in the name of your revocable living trust and named a successor trustee who has the authority to open the box when necessary.
If you don't have a safe deposit box, you can store your documents in your home. If you're using a personal safe, give the combination to someone you know and trust. If you're storing documents in a file cabinet or box, make sure they are high enough that they won't easily be damaged by flooding.
Your attorney will also retain signed copies of your original estate planning documents. This provides a backup in case your originals are accidentally destroyed or misplaced. As a precautionary measure, make sure the person you've named as executor of your estate knows your attorney's name and contact information.
How Can We Help?
Estate plans must be personalized to fit individual circumstances. Our Pasadena estate planning attorneys can help you create a plan that best addresses your specific needs. Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com to schedule an appointment.