Safekeeping of Your documents
Your estate planning notebook titled THE COMPLETE ESTATE PLAN OF YOUR NAME - contains your signed estate planning documents. This newsletter outlines the options for safely storing your documents.
Where to Store Your Will, Trust, Financial Power of Attorney, Advanced Medical Directive
We designed your estate planning notebook to keep all of your estate planning documents together in one place.
The notebook will fit in a filing cabinet if you choose to store your documents there.
The notebook will also fit in any standard bookcase.
Alternatively, you may choose to keep your estate planning notebook in a fireproof safe at home.
Storage with the Clerk of the Court
Even if you have a fireproof box or safe at home, you may wish to store your will or trust in a secure off-site location. If you want to store your will or trust with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which you reside, he or she will do so for you. The Clerk charges $2.00 to store your document. Once the will is delivered to the Clerk, the Clerk will issue a receipt to you for the document. The receipt should be kept in your estate planning notebook and you may wish to give a copy of the receipt to your Executor. If you asked us to mail the will or trust to the Clerk for you, we will also keep a copy of the receipt in your closed file.
After you sign your documents in our office, you can let us know if you wish for us to mail your will or trust to the Clerk. We charge $25.00 to cover our time, or you may mail or deliver the document to the Clerk yourself.
Do Not Store Will or Trust in a Safe Deposit Box
We do not recommend that you keep your will or trust in a safe deposit box. Unless your Executor or Successor Trustee is also permitted access to your box during your lifetime, your Executor/Trustee will not be permitted access after your death to look for the will. A bank will gain access to the safe deposit box of a decedent only if the Executor has a letter of administration from the Clerk of the Probate Office.
Your Executor can find himself in a very difficult position. The Executor knows you have a will and it is stored in your safe deposit box. However, your would-be Executor cannot retrieve your will from the safe deposit box without a letter of administration from the Probate Office and that letter cannot be obtained without your will.
Give One Copy of Your Financial Power of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directive to You Primary and Alternate Agent
We prepared three copies of your General Durable Financial Power of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directive. If your spouse is NOT your primary agent, please give one copy to your primary agent.
If your spouse is your primary agent, consider giving one copy of each document to your alternate agent. When your agent or alternate agent needs to use your financial or medical power of attorney, it is important to be able to locate your document quickly.
Give one copy of your Advanced Medical Directive to your primary physician and any other doctors that you regularly consult.
The Law Firm's Document Retention Policy
If you signed your documents in our office, we will keep copies of your documents in our closed files for ten (10) years.
Occasionally a client will contact us to tell us that they have misplaced or lost their signed documents. If this should happen to you, please contact the office. We may be able to reconstruct your documents from our electronic file.