Clients often ask where they should keep their original documents.  The most common places clients think of storing important documents are: 1) at home in their fireproof safe or 2) their safe-deposit box at the bank.   Which do you think is better?

If given the option, we almost  always suggest that clients keep them in their personal fireproof safe because the home is more accessible than a bank-held safe-deposit box.  For example, in an emergency, your agents may not be able to access your safe-deposit box if the bank is closed.  If the emergency occurs after hours on a weekend, your agent will not be able to get to the documents until the bank opens on Monday (and hopefully Monday isn’t a bank holiday).  Accessibility problems can be avoided by using your personal fireproof safe.

If using a personal fire proof safe at home, let at least one of your agents know how to access and open the safe in an emergency.  Perhaps you can provide a spare key to your house and let them know where you keep the combination to the safe should they need it.

Let your primary agent know where to find your documents

Ultimately, your estate administrator (whether it is the Independent Executor of your Will or the Trustee of your Trust) will need your original documents to administer your estate after you pass away.  We suggest letting that person know where to look to find these documents to save significant time and money for your estate!

If, for example, only a copy of your Will can be found, under the law there is a presumption that you revoked the original Will by destroying it.  Your Executor will be forced to prove to the Court that you did not intentionally revoke your Will and that a copy of the Will should be admitted to probate instead.  However, the Court, being skeptical, is going to appoint another attorney to investigate the matter and to determine who the heirs of your estate would be if the Court decides not to accept a copy of your Will to probate.  This could end up doubling or tripling the time and cost of probate!