Having a comprehensive estate plan won’t do you much good if no one can find it. Making and distributing copies of your estate planning documents are an incredibly important part of making sure your wishes are both known and followed. Here’s what you should know:
Make sure you keep your estate plan in a secure place. Generally, that’s at home in a safe or in a bank in a jointly-owned safe deposit box. For married couples, it’s important that each spouse knows the location of both Wills (they can certainly be in the same place) and for unmarried folks, it’s smart to keep your original with a family member, your executor, or your estate planning attorney.
This is a tough question as laws here vary state by state. You should know that even a simple photocopy is better than nothing at all. Also, if there are any issues, two documents, say one held by your attorney and another held by your doctor, can be compared against each other to prove that the copies are true and legitimate.
Sometimes, this means getting official copies through a notary or even signing a couple copies of each during the original signing session. After all, you’re already in the room with witnesses. Why not have a few back ups?
There’s a little wiggle room here on where to keep your original estate plan and who should get copies. This is definitely something that varies depending on your situation. In addition to distributing your estate plan to those you’re closest to (like family or close friends), you should also consider giving it to a few qualified professionals. Here are a few ideas: