It is very important that you keep your important papers and estate planning documents in a safe place so that your trusted helpers can find them when needed. After all, your trusted helpers won’t know what to do or who to contact without instruction. Many folks assume that their safety deposit box is a safe place. It is. In fact, it’s too safe. It won’t be accessible when your documents are needed.
The documents that prove that your trustee or executor should have access to your safe deposit bank are in the safe deposit box itself. That makes it really hard and inconvenient to get to the documents.
Instead, consider keeping your estate planning documents and important papers in a safe place in your home. A fire safe (be sure your loved ones have the combination), desk drawer, or shelf in your home office are good places for storage. It is prudent to give your trusted helper a copy of these documents as well.
Keep your estate planning documents available with the following information and documents:
- Certificates such as marriage, divorce, and adoption certificates
- Last 7 years tax returns
- A list of all online passwords, account numbers, and usernames
- Deeds and car titles
- A list of all people to be contacted in the event of death such as friends and relatives
- Contact information for professional advisors such as your estate planning attorney, CPA, insurance representative, and financial advisor
- Funeral arrangements
- Financial statement including an updated list of all assets and debts
- Insurance policies and retirement plan statements
- Ethical wills and/or love letters to your family
Should you have questions or concerns about storing your estate planning documents, be sure to consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.