Where To Keep Your Estate Planning Documents?

It’s one thing to get your estate planning documents done and it’s another thing to keep them organized and someplace where family members can access them should they need to in an emergency.

While I am not able to print out your documents and organize them in a nice leather binder before you sign them, you can easily organize your own estate planning documents however you want without the added expense of an expensive leather binder. If you decide to organize them in a binder you like, I would recommend at least inserting each document in clear sheet protectors or expanding zipper pockets inside the binder.  And use whatever type of tab dividers you like to organize them inside the binder. Here is a sample table of contents that you can use to customize. (Note that one downside of binders is they can be hard to store in a safe deposit box at the bank or in a fireproof safe at home, depending on the size. So another option is to use expanding or accordion files that are more flexible than binders.)

As far as storing the documents, you could store them the following ways:

  1. Safe Deposit Box. Many people may believe that the best place to store their original estate planning documents is in their safe deposit box at the local bank.  This may make sense if you have given your spouse or a trusted child, other family member, or friend access to your box but even so, it takes time to go to the bank in the event of an emergency.
  2. Fireproof Safe. While it’s never bad idea to have a fireproof safe at home, these safes can be expensive and heavy to store.
  3. File Cabinet or safe place at home. In a file cabinet somewhere hidden from the public. This is the most common and while far from perfect, it can work. But if you’re concerned about privacy and the safety of the original documents in the event of a burglary or a fire, then you’d be better off with a fireproof safe (as long as you give the combination to the right people who would need to access it in the event of an emergency).
  4.  Online. Another relatively new idea for storage – at least for storage of copies of your documents – is to sign up for a third party online storage service and there are several of these. While I can’t vouch for any of these, but there are some examples: DocuBank, Everplans, Carbonite, DropBox, LegalVault, LegacyShield, or even a computer flash drive. There are many other ways to store your documents online. Just make sure you use a secure site and that your spouse or family members will be able to access it if they needed to or couldn’t find the originals anywhere.

Any questions, let me know!



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