Do you consider a safe deposit box the best place for storing important documents? If you are like many Americans, you may still keep your important paperwork and valuables at the bank. After all, logic dictates that renting a safe deposit box, or safety deposit box, is a much safer bet than keeping everything at home.
Now that you have made your estate plan, you may be thinking about keeping it at the bank, too. If so, you may be surprised to learn that there are pros and cons to this plan. Let us share more on this topic so you can make a decision and, as always, do not hesitate to ask us your questions.
Estate planning lawyers may urge clients not to keep the original copies of their estate planning documents in safety deposit boxes because:
- The bank is only open on certain days and at specific times
- Access to safe deposit boxes is limited to the owner(s)
- If you are the sole owner of a safety deposit box, your family and/or the personal representative(s) of your estate may need a court order to get your documents
There can be ways around this, such as adding additional owners to the box, but you may not want to or forget to use them. Speak with your attorney as you can designate access to safe deposit boxes in your durable power of attorney. Although, unfortunately, banks do not always honor these documents when the time comes. Further, they cease to work upon your passing.
Instead of putting your original estate planning documents in a safe deposit box, consider keeping them:
- In a fireproof and waterproof lockbox at home
- In a home safe
- In a secure container on an upper shelf
No matter where you decide to keep your original documents, it is also important to make copies. Doing so helps ensure that your estate can still be settled in accordance with your wishes. Without any originals or copies of your w or other estate planning documents, there can be challenges down the line for both your needs and your families. There can also be issues in achieving your goals for your legacy. It is important to discuss this early on with your experienced estate planning attorney.
As always, we are here to answer any of your questions and help address your concerns. You are welcome to ask us about storing your original estate planning documents, or about any estate planning matters, at any time.