When it comes to storing your estate planning documents, you need a spot that’s secure and easily accessible. Your documents need to be protected from theft, fire, and floods and they need to be in a location where you can get to them – and where your executor or trustee can get to them, if necessary.
At first blush, it might seem like a safe deposit box is the perfect place to store your documents. After all, it’s behind lock and key with all the security your bank can provide, and it’s relatively safe from natural disasters. Plus, if you need to get your hands on your documents, all you have to do is drive over to the bank. So, what’s the problem?
The problem can arise after your death. This is when it’s essential that your executor or trustee have access to your estate plan, but if the paperwork is in a safe deposit box, those essential documents might be inaccessible. Unless your executor or trustee is also a joint renter of the box or arrangements have been made ahead of time to grant access, he or she might not be able to get into it without a court order.
What should you do? You can add your fiduciary as a co-renter, or you can fill out the appropriate paperwork at the bank to give your fiduciary right of access to the safe deposit box if you pass away. If you choose to store your estate planning documents someplace else, a fireproof safe in your home could be a good choice – just be sure the right people know the combination!