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Are safe deposit boxes the best place to store wills?

Completing an estate plan is a great feeling for most Tennessee residents. There is a satisfaction in knowing that these important matters have been addressed and that one's final wishes will be carried out according to plan. Once the paperwork is all in place, however, many people are unsure where to store their wills, trusts and other important documents. A safe deposit box offers a safe and secure option for storing these essential documents, but it is important to understand how these accounts work in order to reap the intended benefits.

Each bank has a unique set of rules when it comes to safe deposit box accounts. It is essential to comply with those rules, so that the designated party will have the ability to access the contents of the safe deposit box when the time comes. Some families choose to sign up for a joint access account, in which both spouses have the ability to access the contents of the box. However, it is important to ask a bank representative if a surviving spouse will be permitted to remove the contents of the box in the event of the death of the other account holder.

Other families choose to use a special power of attorney form to allow access to the safe deposit box. Here again, it is important to work with the bank to ensure that the proper paperwork is in place. In some cases, banks want an account holder to use the bank's own power of attorney paperwork and will not honor documents drafted elsewhere.

A safe deposit box is a great resource for storing wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. Having the box can protect those documents from loss due to fire, flood, theft or other threats. However, as with any other estate planning tool, it is vitally important that the person authorized to access the box when the time comes is made aware of the location of the account and the steps required to gain access to the contents of the Tennessee safe deposit box.

Source:, "Estate Planning: The safe deposit box", Dennis Fordham, Sept. 11, 2015

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