Congratulations, you made a will! Now the challenge is:
Where should I store my will and other estate planning documents?
For many years, people kept their wills at their lawyer’s office. And that was – and is! – a very safe space to store your estate planning documents. But during the pandemic, we saw many attorneys begin to work remotely, and as offices have re-opened, the reality is many law firms continue to work remotely, or at least part-time. Many law firms store their document on the cloud, and original documents are securely stored off-site. So where is the best place to store your estate planning documents today, in 2021?
It is important that the original copy of all your estate planning documents are safely stored and protected. You should make a copy of the original documents that you store in a location that you can easily access so you can see what your will or trust or power of attorney actually says. A safety deposit box can be a good location to store your copies if you’d like – it is NOT a good choice to store your original estate planning documents. If you die, no one will be able to access the safety deposit box for days, weeks or even longer.
1. At Your Lawyer’s
Storing your estate planning documents with your lawyer is a safe, smart strategy to make sure they are safe and protected – as long as your key family members and heirs know that you have a will, a lawyer and who that lawyer is. Wherever your lawyer has chosen to safeguard your documents, you can be assured that he has chosen a safe location.
2. Invest In A Fire-Proof Home Safe
A fire-proof home safe can safely protect your important legal documents in most situations, but it could be stolen, or damaged or even lost in a flood or devastating fire. Having hard copies in another location is a great backup plan
3. Electronic Records
Your lawyer likely has digital copies of your estate planning documents. Make sure he provides you with an electronic copy of your digital estate planning documents and store them with your other online documents.
Where ever you choose to store your estate planning document for safekeeping, there are important steps you should take to make sure your wishes are followed:
• Inform key family and friends that you have a will.
• Provide a close friend, the executor of your estate or key family members with detailed written information on where you will is stored, make them a co-owner of your safety deposit box and tell them and how to open a safe such as codes, keys or passwords.
• Ask your estate planning lawyer what they recommend. A local lawyer will know the laws for your state, and will probably have 1st-hand experience with what can go wrong, and how you can avoid problems with your executor finding and following the instructions in your will.
Making a will doesn’t have to be complicated. An experienced estate planning and probate lawyer can guide you through the process so nothing is overlooked, and you can be sure that your will complies with Illinois probate laws.
To talk to a probate, trust and estates attorney in Chicago or Lombard about how to make and store your will, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.