You spent a significant amount of time and money to have your estate planning documents drawn up by your attorney. You now have the peace of mind of knowing that you took care of things and have protected yourself and your family in the event of illness, disability or death.
However, there is another thing for you to consider: what are you going to do to keep your documents safe and to make sure they are available when needed?. Unfortunately, in my twenty-eight plus years of practice, I have experienced many times when these important documents cannot be found. When this happens, the effect may be as though the documents were never drafted. What a shame to spend good money only to not get the benefit of your Last Will and Testament or Power of Attorney.
You should locate your documents in a fireproof lockbox or safe. Even better, have someone else, like a son or a daughter, place your documents in their safe deposit box. Do not put the documents in your own safe deposit box because your loved ones may need a court order to get to them. I do not recommend that you stick them in a drawer someplace. What if your house burns down? Your documents will burn too.
Where ever you put your documents, you should make sure your executors, trustees and power of attorney agents know where to find them. You should write a letter of instructions to your family and keep it with your documents. The letter of instructions will explain such things as funeral arrangements, list of bank accounts and other financial documents, your financial, tax and legal advisors, etc. If you would like a free copy of a list of things to include in a letter of instructions, please contact us at 516-222-1773 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One last thing: after you have your documents done, your life will continue and changes will happen. Significant people in your life will die, get married, be divorced or born and laws affecting your estate plan may change. It is important to review your plan every time something significant happens in your life or every three to five years. An out-of-date plan can be just as bad as no plan at all.
You spent good money having your estate planning documents done. Now make sure you safeguard them so that they will be effective when needed.