When we ask our clients, “Where do you keep your original will and estate planning documents?”, much of the time we hear, “I think our attorney has the original”.
Where your original will is kept is a very important detail because there is only one; the one you signed and had witnessed and notarized is the only official document.
In that document are your instructions as to who you want to serve as your executor and how you want your estate distributed. This is all information that will be needed immediately after your passing.
While some attorneys do offer a service of retaining the original will, not all do. If your attorney is not in possession of your original will, we recommend you not keep it in a safe deposit box at your bank. The reason for this is because upon your death the bank will grant access to the box only to your executor. This creates a Catch 22…the executor will need the original will to prove to the bank that he or she has the legal right to gain that access.
Should your executor or heirs not be able to provide an original will, some probate offices will deem you do not have a will, even if they are given a copy. This can throw your estate into chaos.
As one year ends and another begins, it is a good time to make sure your affairs are in order and that your executor knows where to find your original will and other important documents.
One Financial Services and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.