After carefully crafting your estate plan, one question that many have is “where should I place my original documents, and who needs a copy of these documents?”.
For where to place these documents we always suggest a safe and secure location for their storage. You may place your documents in a safety deposit box but make sure someone knows their location and has the ability to access the documents after your passing. If you do not, then your loved ones will have to go through a complex legal procedure to have the authority to open the safety deposit box.
Another location to store your documents is in a fireproof safe where you keep all your other important papers. You should always make sure this safe is in a secure area and not easily visible to potential intruders.
Once you have decided where to place these documents, you need to consider who needs to receive a copy of the documents. Your documents are completely private; you are not required to tell anyone about the details of your estate plan. However, there may be reasons why you will want to give copies of these documents in certain situations.
Your Healthcare Power of Attorney will typically only become active when two of your attending physicians determine that you are incapable to make medical decisions for yourself. Therefore, you may wish to provide a copy of this document to the individual who will be serving as your agent. It may also be advantageous to provide a copy of your healthcare power of attorney to a hospital you would go to in an emergency. This allows the document to be fully processed by the administration of the hospital. Ensuring that your loved ones can quickly make decisions for you if the need arises.
At McIntyre Elder Law we almost always recommend that your General Durable Power of Attorney be recorded at the register of deeds of the county in which you are a resident. This will ensure that your agent is able to act quickly if a need arises and many financial institutions will not interact with the person named as your agent unless the document is recorded. Once recorded the document is public record and can be pulled up online. You can provide your agent with a copy, but it will always be available as public record.
A Will or Trust are documents that determine the final distribution of your assets after you pass. These are private documents and do not need to be shared with anyone. If they are shared, this may create problems with family members if one individual receives a larger share than another. Therefore, we usually recommend that keep these documents private.
We also offer E-Docs access as a free service to our clients. This allows us to digitally store your documents and allows you to access them at your convenience. We can also allow your loved ones to create an account as well to view the documents that you give them permission to see.
We would love to talk to you about this or any other estate planning issues you may have. Please contact us today to schedule your free consultation 888-999-6600 .