You’ve had your will (or living trust) drawn up and have checked that task off of your “to-do” list.  Where is it?  Who knows where it is?  And the same questions can be asked about your Power of Attorney, your Advanced Directive, Living Will and HIPAA Waiver.

We receive numerous phone calls from people all over the country in a panic looking for wills – usually for deceased parents.  Losing a loved one is stressful but when it’s discovered that there is either no will in existence or it can’t be found, it can be disastrous.  We’ve had calls from people telling us relatives are cleaning out a deceased parent’s house without permission; they’ve been living with a parent in the parent’s house but now have to move because the house has to be sold; bank accounts are being closed by a sibling – all because a will can’t be found.

So where do you keep your will and other estate planning documents?  And equally important – who knows where it is?  And can they access it when necessary?  Some people put it in a safe deposit box at a bank.  That will keep it safe but can your executor get at it when necessary?  What are the bank requirements?  Some people put it in a fireproof box in their home.  Does your executor or trustee know where the box is kept and where the key is to open the box?

At Legacy Trust and Wills, we give the clients the original copies to take with them.  We scan and keep digital copies of all signed documents because in most cases New Hampshire laws allow copies of documents to be used for transactions.  We also give clients the digital copies so that they can be uploaded to a computer and shared with executors, trustees, financial and healthcare agents (and beneficiaries when appropriate).

Bottom line – please be sure at least two people know where your documents are and can access them when the time comes.