And your other commonly questions answered
Clients are always concerned about securing their estate planning documents like a Will, Trust or Power of Attorney forms. Clients tend to ask us where to store these documents. Most clients use a safe deposit box at the bank or a safe located at their house. These storage methods may have unintended consequences that clients are not aware of.
This article focuses on commonly asked questions on storage methods and the common problems that clients are not aware of.
- Should I Store my Will and Estate Planning Documents in the Safety Deposit Box?
A safe deposit box is a metal box that is often stored inside of a vault at your bank. If you decide to store your documents here clients can make arrangements with your bank to pay a fee and have items stored in a box. There is usually a rental fee for the bank to provide those services.There are disadvantages to a safe deposit box. Sometimes loved ones do not know that you have a safe deposit box or which bank. Your bank does not contact love ones if the client has passed away. They have no way of knowing that their customer died. If your loved ones locate your safe deposit box the bank may not allow them to have access to the box without a court order. If this is the case, then you will need to file a case with the probate court which requires a lot of time and money.
- Should I store my documents with my Lawyer?
If you hired an attorney to draft your will and estate planning documents, you may wish to store it with them. Some Lawyers have their own safe deposit box or vault for storing clients’ documents. Over the years we have seen several problems with this. The most common problems are that loved ones do not always know what lawyer that you went to. A lot of lawyers will try to contact other lawyers just to see if they may have a client’s will. This takes a lot of extra time for loved ones to try to locate your will or estate planning documents. There are also natural disasters such as fires and floods.Attorneys are not perfect nor are their staff, we have seen a few cases where the Will was lost either by the Attorneys office or by the client.The lawyer may have an outdated will. If your loved ones knew you had a certain lawyer and get that version, this can create confusion if another will is found.Once last example is if your lawyer passes away. We have seen this all too many times. Once a lawyer passes away, the client does not know if they can get their will or if their file passes to another lawyer.
- Can I keep my Estate Planning Documents with the Probate Court?
Some States let you keep your will with the probate court for safe keeping only. Clients will need to file paperwork and pay the deposit for the probate court to keep your will. This information is not available to the public so, therefore, loved ones may not know that you kept your will with the Probate Court. In Ohio, you can keep your will in the Probate Court within the County you reside.This option does not provide much flexibility for clients seeking a storage solution. Clients tend to move, and they would have to keep resubmitting their will with different courts. Also, if clients wish to update their will, they would still once again, go back to the probate court to resubmit the document after their Will has been updated.In Ohio, the probate court only stores Last Wills and Testaments. Other documents like power of attorneys and other important estate planning documents cannot be stored at the probate court.
- Can I store my estate planning documents at my Home?
Our Clients may want to keep their important estate planning documents in their homes in a safe location, such as in your desk, a filing cabinet, or a safe. This option seems easy and you will have access to your documents if you need to update them.However, this option may not always be safe or secure. Our office has seen loved ones learn of the clients passing and has taken documents from the home without the others permission. The loved ones also believe there is a lock box when in fact there wasn’t one. The original could also be destroyed in a fire or a flood.There are also privacy concerns, if love ones know of the lock box, they may have access to it.
- Is there Online Document Storage for my Estate Planning Documents?
An option that is now available to clients is an online storage service. Our office can provide this service through Attorney’s Vault https://attorneysvault.com/. This service offers an online planform to store all of our client’s important information securely.Clients can have full access to their important documents 24/365. These documents can be accessed on a computer or on their phone. There are no long-term contracts.Some states require the original Will, this company also offers storage of the original paperwork at a secure location if requested by our clients.Our office will make sure that your estate plan is executed effectively. We also offer our partnership with Attorney Vault to help ensure that your estate planning documents are safe.
To learn more about creating an estate plan or to help you through the Ohio probate process, please contact us.