As an elder law attorney, I understand the importance of having a well-organized estate plan that ensures your wishes are carried out after you pass away. A key component of any estate plan is a last will and testament. While safe deposit boxes have traditionally been considered a secure option for storing important documents, including wills, there are some disadvantages worth considering. In this blog post, we'll explore the drawbacks of relying solely on a safe deposit box and discuss alternative options for safeguarding your will.
Uncertainty in Case of Bank Closure:
One major disadvantage of keeping your will in a safe deposit box is the potential risk of losing access to it if the bank closes. In such situations, the contents of the safe deposit box might be relocated to a storage facility in another state. This can create unnecessary complications and delays when a loved one attempts to locate and retrieve your will after you pass away.
Delays and Limited Access:
Banks are notorious for their slow response times. If you were to pass away and your will is stored in a safe deposit box, your loved ones may face considerable challenges in gaining access to it promptly. Obtaining permission to open a safe deposit box often requires legal procedures, such as obtaining a court order, which can be time-consuming and emotionally draining during an already difficult time.
Alternative Safekeeping Options for Your Will
a. File with the Probate Court:
Filing your will with the local probate court offers several advantages. It ensures that your will is in a secure and accessible location, eliminating the risk of it being misplaced or lost. Additionally, the court maintains a record of the will, making it easier for your loved ones to locate it when the time comes.
b. Store in a Home Safe or Lockbox.
Investing in a fireproof home safe or lockbox can provide a convenient and secure option for storing your will. Ensure that your loved ones are aware of its location and provide them with any necessary access codes or keys. It's wise to inform your attorney and executor as well, so they can guide your loved ones accordingly.
c. Share Copies with Trusted Individuals.
While the original will should be stored securely, sharing copies with trusted individuals is a prudent step. Provide copies to your attorney and your Personal Representative. This ensures that multiple parties have access to your wishes and can act accordingly in your absence.
While safe deposit boxes have long been perceived as a secure option for storing important documents, including wills, they come with their fair share of disadvantages. The potential for bank closure and delays in accessing the box make it essential to explore alternative methods for safekeeping your will. By utilizing options such as filing with the probate court, investing in a home safe or lockbox, and sharing copies with trusted individuals, you can ensure that your will remains protected and readily accessible when it matters most.
Remember, as an elder law attorney, I am here to guide you through the estate planning process and help you make informed decisions to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are honored. Don't hesitate to reach out for personalized advice tailored to your unique circumstances.