Making a plan for the future requires knowing all of the details involved. As difficult as it may be, it is too important to remain focused and not lose sight of the intricate elements of your future, especially the location of these vital documents.
Whether it is your keys or your wallet, you inevitably will lose track of something during the course of your life. While these items also hold a significant amount of importance, the forgotten location of a will or an advance directive is more than just a minor inconvenience. It can be a deciding factor in your health, should you find yourself incapacitated, or in the division of your estate, should you die before the estate planning documents are found.
Rely on your attorney
Before you can find a safe place for the documents to be stored, the documents have to be created. This requires the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney, who understands the unique nature of your situation and is willing to work with you, in order to ensure that your wishes are fully realized.
Many attorneys hold onto the original copies of estate planning documents, in order to ensure that they are secured, regardless of what happens to the client’s copy. However, you still should take the necessary steps to protect yourself and secure your copy of the will, trust, Power of Attorney, or other estate planning document in question.
Even if you do not presently need the documents, you still need to know where they are. You do not want to have to go back to your elder law attorney and redraft crucial documents.
For wills, their location can be officially documented through the United States Will Registry, provided that the will was registered. The current registry contains the locations of wills dating back to 1967.
It is important to keep in mind that the registry does not accept a copy of the will. It only contains the location of the document, so that family members may be able to find it when needed.
While you still are alive, you need to take some personal responsibility for where your important documents are located. You cannot risk your estate documents falling into the hands of those that may be willing to commit forgery, in order to obtain your assets.
MarketWatch reported a story regarding the alteration of a family will situation , where a brother allegedly altered his mother’s will, taking an inherited sum worth $110,000 away from his sister.
The will, in question, was handwritten and stated that the sister was to receive $10,000. However, upon second viewing, the sister alleges that there was a number one that was changed into a dollar sign and that the amount should be $110,000.
These documents should never be left to be handwritten, nor left vulnerable to possible forgery. Putting a plan in place for your senior years and for after you have died requires making an effort in the present to having a plan in place and knowing where that plan is located at all times.
Security and context
In order to avoid the consequences of misplacing your estate planning documents, you should designate a secure location in your home for important documents. Along with your social security card, birth certificate, passport, and other legal documents, you should include your estate planning documents that can be accessed, in the event of your incapacitation or death.
Additionally, you need to have difficult conversations with your loved ones and let them know where to find these types of documents.
The emotions of the situation may be challenging. No one wants to confront their own mortality, nor discuss it with their loved ones. However, without having these conversations, your loved ones will never have the context necessary to honor your wishes, nor will have the knowledge of where the necessary legal documents are kept, should you find yourself incapacitated or dead.
While you would hope that none of your loved ones would be interested in acting against your wishes, you need to make sure that legally binding documents are in place, prepared by an elder law attorney, that ensure that your wishes are realized.
Contact Cordell Planning Partners for your complimentary estate plan analysis today.