You’ve done the responsible thing and drawn up an estate plan — but now you aren’t sure what to do with the documents. You have a few options.
It’s always good to store a digital copy online and have a paper copy where it can easily be found. If you put it somewhere nobody can find it, that’s not going to help your executor and your heirs.
What are your options?
A lot of people figure a safety deposit box in a bank is a good storage place, but that’s untrue. Unless you have a joint owner listed on the box, nobody will be able to access its contents after you’re gone without a court order — and that will definitely slow things down for your estate.
A filing cabinet in your home or a lockbox are good options — as long as you make it clear to your executor where to look for the documents (and/or the keys they need to get them). However, unless you buy a box that’s both waterproof and fireproof, your will could end up damaged beyond all use.
You may consider storing your will at your local courthouse. If the clerk of the local probate court has a secure vault that can be used for storing wills, you can deposit your sealed will there for storage for a nominal fee until it is needed. Some attorneys’ offices will also store your will for you.
Finally, consider giving your estate plan to your executor for storage. You can seal it and ask that it not be opened until after your death, if you like. However, since your executor is the person you trust to carry out your wishes, you may not consider that necessary.
Estate planning can feel very complicated to a layperson. However, it doesn’t have to be, as long as you have the right assistance.