PROTECTING YOUR ESTATE PLAN
Protecting your estate plan after it has been created is an important step in making sure your wishes are followed after you pass away.
Here a few helpful tips:
#1 Create A Digital Copy Of The Entire Plan
Our office always provides a PDF file of the entire signed document to clients. These days, a digital copy is easier and in fact superior to a hard copy of a document. They’re easier to store and you can print a hard copy at any time.
The best practice with archiving your estate plan is to store the document on a thumb drive.
#2 Let Somebody Know Where It Is
Over the years, our office has handled thousands of estate planners near me and hundreds of probates for clients. Two things seem to be common: One is that too many clients never tell anyone where there estate plan is and too many people forget where the plan is.
There’s an easy solution to both of these problems.
Tell somebody you trust where the documents are and give them a digital copy of the documents. Ideally, this would be the person you’ve made your trustee, executor and/or power of attorney.
#3 Don’t Be Afraid To Call The Estate Planning Lawyer!
As I noted above, we always keep a digital copy of documents (never the originals) on our dedicated hard drive. It’s not unusual for a former client to call asking if we could send them a copy of the documents. We certainly don’t mind that at all. Other firms have similar procedures, so if you lose something, call the lawyer and in almost all cases they’ll be able to help you right away.
#4 Avoid Safe Deposit Boxes
Safe deposit boxes were in vogue in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I can clearly remember the excitement I felt as a young boy accompanying my Dad with the banker to access our family’s safe deposit box. The room was lined with these boxes, the lights were dim and it was so exciting. What was…in…the…box?
Then my Dad opened the box, quickly found a legal document of some kind (house deed?) and we were ready to leave. Such a killjoy.
Anyway it’s not 1981, it’s 2021 and while banks still have safe deposit boxes, they are expensive and impractical. They also require an extra step of giving someone access to the box in order to obtain whatever you’ve put in there. If that’s your estate plan, any problems could mean that the person needing access would have to get a court order to access the box. Drilling a box (i.e. needing to manually open because of a lost key) is expensive.
The good news is that you can buy a simple and effective safe for about $100 online. Unless you need to have the documents out of your house, leave them in a safe…at home.
#5 Take Documents When You Travel And Keep A Copy In Your Car
Statistically speaking, you are more likely to get injured on a trip somewhere than near home. Whether that’s because you’re scuba diving or taking a hike in the desert I’m not sure, but this is accurate. Which is why it’s a great idea to bring a digital copy of your documents with you wherever you go. I’d recommend putting the plan on your Google Drive application so you don’t have to lug a thumb drive which might be easy to lose. With phones being so ubiquitous these days, they are the better option.