Where to keep your Last Will

Documents drawer

Now that you’ve (been responsible and) executed your Last Will, where should you store it?  This question comes up at the end of almost every estate planning case I handle.

This will be an easy blog post because there’s an easy answer:  

STORE YOUR WILL WHEREVER THE RELEVANT PEOPLE CAN EASILY FIND IT AND ACCESS IT.

We don’t generally recommend sharing the contents of your Will with your beneficiaries ahead of time, but your Executor(s) and Trustee(s) (i.e. the people you named to handle your estate/trust) should know how to access the documents.  If  your Will is stored in a safe deposit box at the bank, have you signed to allow another access? And do they know the Will is there?  If you haven’t given a third party access to your safe deposit box at the bank, a court order will be necessary.  If your Will is in your fire proof safe at home, does the necessary person have a key? And do they know it’s there?

Remember, too, that when when you sign your Last Will you will also execute a Financial Power of Attorney and Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare.  The Financial Power of Attorney allows you to name an agent or agents to handle your financial affairs on your behalf while you are still alive.  The Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare allows you to name a health care agent to make medical decisions if you cannot, and also allows you to indicate what your treatment preferences would be if you were terminal or in a permanent vegetative state.

Often, the Financial Power of Attorney and Advance Directive for Healthcare become immediately necessary because an emergency has occurred – a fall, a stroke, a hospitalization.  Knowing where these documents are stored and how to access them will make your loved ones’ lives much easier, so make sure you’ve shared that information.

One last thing – you can also store important account information and computer log-in information with your Will so that your loved ones will find that easily when they go to find your documents.

CAVEAT:  This web site and the information contained herein have been prepared for educational purposes only.  The information on this blog does not constitute legal advice, which would be dependent upon the specific circumstances of a particular case.  In addition, because the law can vary from state to state some information on this site may not be applicable to you.

Image © lucato – Fotolia.com

 

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About Sarah R. Watchko, Esq.

Sarah R. Watchko is an attorney practicing estate planning and elder law in Atlanta, Georgia

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