One of the most common questions I get asked as an estate planning attorney is, “Where should I store my Will?” The short answer is that you should store your Will in a safe and accessible place. That begs the question: Where, exactly, is a safe and accessible place?
A safety deposit is often the first location that comes to mind. While a safety deposit box is certainly safe, it is not the most accessible location. A safety deposit box may present a catch twenty-two. Consider this scenario. You place your Will in a box that only you have access to. Your Will nominates your brother as the executor. Upon your death, your brother cannot gain access to the box until the court appoints him as executor; however, the court cannot appoint him as executor until he retrieves the original Will from the box. This becomes especially problematic if your Will contains provisions which must be known immediately upon your death such as preferences regarding funeral arrangements. If you choose to keep your Will in a safety deposit box, make sure that another person (preferably someone other than your spouse) has access to the box.
A good fire safe at home is a secure and more readily accessible location. If you keep your documents at home, place them on a high shelf to protect them from water damage in the event of a flood. Make sure that someone else knows the combination or has a key. If you do not have a safe, store your Will in the location it is best protected from theft or destruction.
Regardless of where you choose keep your Will, let someone you trust know where it is located and make sure that person has the golden key.
Ashley Naramore is an estate planning attorney practicing law in Hot Springs, Hot Springs Village, and eastern Arkansas. Give her a call to help plan your estate.