I tell all of my clients that they can keep their estate plan documents at home, in a locked safe. Sometimes, a client will ask: “Really? Not in a safety deposit box at the bank?” Here is why it is important to keep your original estate plan documents in a locked safe.
Most people don’t realize it, but a safety deposit box is actually a special type of bank account. Why is this important? Because, if the people left in charge of your affairs are not named as co-owners of the box, and if they don’t have a key, then they will have an expensive, time-consuming job ahead. If you die, then the person you left in charge of your affairs will have to go to court to get a judge to order the bank to drill the lock, so they can access the pertinent documents.
On the other hand, if you provide the people you have named to be in charge of your affairs with: (1) copies of your incapacity documents (Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive), and (2) the location of your original documents (“by the way, my estate plan documents are in my safe at home”), then you should be covered in case you become incapacitated or pass away suddenly and unexpectedly.