Where Should I Keep My Estate Planning Documents?
After you have gone through the process of creating an estate plan, where should you keep your estate planning documents? You want to protect the paperwork that you so carefully prepared, but also, you want your loved ones to be able to access the files if needed. In today’s blog, we’re discussing the different options for safeguarding and storing your documents.
One of the most convenient places to store your estate planning documents is inside your home or office. You can keep the paperwork wherever you keep your other important documents, whether that be in a filing cabinet, in a bookcase or on a shelf, or perhaps in a desk drawer. But keep in mind, storing your documents at home does have some risks. The paperwork could be damaged by fire, water, or natural disaster. For those reasons, you might want to purchase a fireproof and waterproof safe. Also, if your documents are inside your home, anyone who visits you could read them, whether intentionally or accidentally.
Safe Deposit Box
A second option is to keep your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box at your bank. This is a secure place for your paperwork, and you do not have to worry about accidents or prying eyes. If you do decide to keep everything at the bank, be sure to let your executor and/or beneficiaries know where the documents are located. Also, you need to ensure that these individuals have the legal authority to access your bank safe deposit box after you pass away.
With the Estate Executor
In addition to storing your documents at your home or bank, you can also ask your estate executor to keep the paperwork safe for you. This is a convenient option because the person probating your will would already have a copy of it. But, you need to make sure that they will store the documents appropriately (again, a fireproof and waterproof is recommended) and that they will respect your wishes about reading the documents prior to your death. For these reasons, you might consider giving your estate executor a copy of the documents, and then storing the originals elsewhere.
County Clerk’s Office
Another common place to keep your estate planning documents is at the clerk’s office in the county where you reside. Most county clerks in Georgia will keep an original copy of your paperwork for you; however, the office will usually charge a small storage fee. This is another convenient option because the court will already have your documents when it is time to probate your will and distribute your estate. But keep in mind that if you move out of that county, it might be difficult to access your documents.
If you have additional questions about safeguarding your documents, or if you need help with estate planning or probate, please reach out to our experienced attorneys at Brian M. Douglas & Associates. You can contact us at (770) 933-9009.