Where do you store all of your important documents? If you are like most people, the answer is probably in a locked, fireproof box or safe, or at the bank in a lockbox. These are good places to store important documents because your documents will be protected from fires and other disasters, and they are safe from burglars, but when it comes to your estate planning documents, you may want to rethink your safe storage solution. Unless several family members have access to your safe or lockbox, some of your final wishes might get ignored.
It is important that the family members or friends that you are relying on to carry out your last wishes know where to find the instructions you have left them, and can easily access them. This means making sure at least a couple of people know the code to your safe, or can access your safe deposit box at the bank without you being there with them.
If you don’t make your estate planning documents easily accessible to the people that need them, it’s not the end of the world, but it is a huge hassle. Drilling out a safe takes time and money, and it runs the safe. Getting access to a lock box at a bank takes a court order, and a lot more time and money. All this eats away at the money you had planned to pass on to more worthy causes, and causes a lot of stress for your loved ones.
Delaying access to your estate planning document might also mean nobody has a copy of your end of life directives. This could result in your loved ones making medical decisions on your behalf that you don’t like. You might also end up buried wrong since many people store their funeral directions with their estate planning documents.
Some people object to making their safes and lockboxes “less secure.” But really, if you don’t trust the people you want to carry out your last wishes with your access codes and keys, should you really be trusting them with the task of administering your estate or potentially making end of life medical decisions for you?