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Safekeeping of Your Will and Estate Documents: Protecting Your Legacy

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The importance of having a properly executed will and estate documents cannot be overstated. These documents ensure that your wishes are respected and carried out after you pass away. However, even the most well-crafted will is useless if it cannot be located, or if it is accidentally discarded or damaged. In this article, we will discuss the importance of safekeeping your will and estate documents, what to do if they are lost, and offer guidance on how to protect your legacy.

The Importance of Safekeeping Your Will and Estate Documents

Ensuring Your Wishes Are Honored
Your will and estate documents are the legal instruments that outline your intentions for the distribution of your assets and the care of your dependents after your death. Without these documents, your estate may be subject to the laws of intestacy, which can lead to undesirable outcomes and potential conflict among your loved ones. Properly safeguarding your will and estate documents is essential to ensuring that your wishes are honored.

Avoiding Legal Complications
If your will is lost or damaged, it may be presumed to have been revoked. This can create significant legal complications for your executor, who will need to locate the original executed will to obtain a grant of probate. Without the original will, the probate process can become delayed and more costly, potentially leading to additional stress and hardship for your loved ones.

Where to Store Your Will and Estate Documents

There are several options for storing your will and estate documents. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it's important to carefully consider which method best suits your needs and circumstances.

Storing Documents with Your Lawyer
Many people choose to store their original will and estate documents with their lawyer. This, however, is not a wise choice. Lawyers retire and tracking down where they are and where they left your will may be challenging. 

Safety Deposit Boxes
Another option for storing your will is in a safety deposit box at a financial institution. This can provide a secure and protected environment for your documents. However, there can be potential complications with this method. For instance, your executor may need a grant of probate to access the safety deposit box and retrieve the will, but obtaining a grant of probate requires the original will. This catch-22 situation may necessitate costly and time-consuming court intervention to resolve.

Personal Safes or Lockboxes
Some individuals prefer to store their will and estate documents in a personal safe or lockbox at home. This is possibly the best option if your executor knows the location of the safe and has access to the key or combination. Make sure, however, that you executors know where the key is or the lock combination. 

Communicating the Location of Your Will and Estate Documents

Regardless of which storage method you choose, it is crucial to inform your executor and loved ones of the location of your will and estate documents. This can help to avoid confusion and delays in locating and accessing the documents after your death. Be sure to provide clear instructions on how to retrieve the documents and any necessary access codes or keys.

Safeguarding Your Power of Attorney Documents

In addition to your will, it's important to properly store your power of attorney (POA) documents. These documents, which include a Continuing POA for Property and a POA for Personal Care, are effective during your lifetime and may need to be accessed quickly in case of an emergency.While it is generally best to store the original POA documents with your will, you may wish to keep a notarial copy or an original copy of these documents readily accessible. This can help ensure that your attorney(s) can quickly access the necessary documents in case of an emergency, such as a hospitalization.

What to Do If Your Will or Estate Documents Are Lost

If your will or estate documents are lost or damaged, it's important to take immediate action to rectify the situation. 

Re-execute the Documents
You may need to re-execute the documents. This can involve drafting a new will or creating a codicil, which is an amendment to your existing will. If you are not using our platform, be sure to consult with a legal professional to ensure that the new documents are properly executed and valid.

Notify Your Executor and Loved Ones
Once you have obtained a new copy of your will or re-executed the documents, inform your executor and loved ones of the updated documents' location. This can help prevent confusion or delays in the future

Periodically Review Your Will and Estate Documents

It's important to periodically review your will and estate documents to ensure that they remain current and accurately reflect your wishes. Life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a beneficiary can necessitate changes to your will. During these reviews, take the time to confirm that your will and estate documents are still properly stored and accessible to your executor and loved ones.

Protecting Your Legacy with Willskeeper

The safekeeping of your will and estate documents is a critical aspect of estate planning. Taking the time to store these documents securely and communicate their location to your executor and loved ones can help ensure that your wishes are honored and your legacy is protected. By following the guidance provided in this article, you can help to safeguard your will and estate documents, prevent potential legal complications, and ensure that your loved ones are looked after in accordance with your wishes.

More importantly, if you will is lost and you have prepared it using Willskeeper, you can always login back to our platform, regenerate the document, and execute a new one at no additional fee. Our platform automatically provides a provision that revokes your previous one even if it found at a later date.