It is very important to store your estate planning documents in a safe place that can be accessed to those that need to. It does no good to have your estate plan in a bank safe deposit box that no one knows about or can open. Having to get a court order to open a safe deposit box can add considerable expense and delay to an Oklahoma probate.
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- Today we're gonna talk about where to store your estate planning documents. Welcome to Two Minute Tuesday, where I attempt to discuss an estate planning topic in two minutes or less.
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One of the questions that we get asked a lot is, where do I store my estate planning documents? So after you do an estate plan, we will give you a big blue binder like this one with all of your estate planning documents inside of it. But now that you have it, where do you keep it?
Well, there are probably three options. One is at your house. Two is in a safe deposit box at a bank. And three is with your estate planning lawyer. With any of these options you might think about giving a copy to whoever you designate as your successor trustee or your personal representative and give them specific instructions on where the originals are being kept.
First, if you're going to keep your estate planning documents at home, then I would recommend you put them in some type of a watertight and fireproof safe. Now, if you're going to do this, then I would probably make sure that the safe is somehow attached or connected to your house so that it cannot be easily stolen out of your house by a thief.
The second option is to put your estate planning documents into a safe deposit box at the bank. Now, this may sound like a great idea at first, however, if nobody knows that you have a safe deposit box, or they can't access your safe deposit box, then this can cause extensive delays and expense in administering your estate. If you're going to put your estate planning documents into a safe deposit box, then make sure that whoever needs access to the estate planning documents is on the list of people who are authorized to access the estate planning documents in the safe deposit box. Over the past several years, we have had probates where we needed to get a court order just to open the safe deposit box because the person who passed away had not listed anyone else with authority to access the safe deposit box. In each of these instances, it created significant delay in the probate and cost the estate extra money. So just make sure that someone and maybe more than one person will be able to access the safe deposit box if something were to happen to you.
The third option is to leave it with your estate planning attorney. Personally, even as an estate planning attorney, I do not like this option. When somebody comes to us and we do their estate plan, we will keep an electronic copy, which we can easily email to anybody that needs it. But, I do not wanna keep the originals in my office. The problem that can occur is that your estate planning attorney might go to another law firm, they might close down their law firm, or they might even move to another state. And then you don't know where to look. Whichever option you choose, just make sure that there is a plan in place so that the people who need to access your estate planning documents will have access to it if the time should ever come.
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