Where Should I Keep My Will?
You’ve done the hard part; you’ve created an estate plan! You have a valid will, created with the help of an attorney, which lays out in explicit detail how your estate is to be distributed upon your death. Congratulations! What’s next? Well, finding a safe place to put it! The most perfect, valid, and expensive will in the world will not do you any good if it cannot be located after your death. Luckily, there are several solutions available, and by making yourself aware of these, you can avoid one of the biggest potential disasters that can occur even with the existence of an estate plan.
Storing a Will
One option for storing your will in a safe place is to leave it with the attorney who helped prepare it. However, it’s important to explicitly establish that the attorney will be responsible for keeping and storing your will and providing it to the personal representative of your estate when the time comes. Many people may improperly assume that an estate attorney automatically keeps a copy of every will that they prepare on hand, but keeping a copy for their records does not confirm that it is a copy of the original final will and testament, which might have been altered or updated since the copy was made. For this reason, if you want your attorney to retain your final will and testament for safekeeping, let them know and make sure they are on the same page. Other options for safekeeping include things like safes, but these may have potential drawbacks as well. For instance, if you die and no one is aware that you have a safe hidden away somewhere, or they are aware of the location but lack the code to open it, they may find themselves in a difficult situation and may never be able to access your will. If you do choose to hide your will, ensure that it is kept in a water and fire-safe container. Also make sure to tell the personal representative of your estate, or another trusted person, about the location of your will and to provide them with any information they will need to access it.
What happens if Your Will Cannot be Located?
Often, a safe but easy to locate place is the best solution for a will. For instance, a safe in your study where all of your trusted documents are kept, and where your spouse or immediate family members would think of first to look for things like birth certificates, passports, or a will. This ensures that it will be located. If your will cannot be located by the time that probate court commences for the distribution of your estate, they may have to proceed without it after a good faith effort has been made to locate it. This means that your estate would instead be distributed in accordance with Florida’s intestate succession statutes, as if you never had a valid will in the first place.
Contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray
If you are ready to create an estate plan that meets your needs, or if you require assistance with any estate planning matters, the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray are ready to help. Contact West Palm Beach estate planning lawyer Larry E. Bray today to schedule your personalized consultation.