Suppose you have a medical emergency or die unexpectedly, and your documents can’t be located. In that case, your family will be scrambling to give you the assistance you need or close your final affairs, says AARP’s recent article, “Storing Legal Documents in an Easy-to-Find Place for Family Caregivers.”
Security and accessibility are the primary factors in deciding where to store originals. However, frequently the most secure spot isn’t always the most accessible.
Some attorneys offer to keep the originals of your legal documents for safekeeping. However, this has drawbacks. Your family would have to contact the law firm and obtain the release of the documents.
If you lock them up, remember that someone must either have a key or know where the key is.
If you decide not to provide copies or originals to your future caregivers and loved ones, tell them where they’ll be able to find the documents if they need them (and how to access them!).
If you’re reluctant to tell them in advance, leave a letter of instruction for their use if you’re incapacitated or pass away.
When you draft new documents, make sure you destroy or discard your now-outdated documents.
Send a notice of revocation to anyone who’s holding copies or originals. If you’ve recorded any of those documents, record the notice of revocation as well. Also, ask that anyone holding copies destroy or discard the documents in their possession.
You don’t want your loved ones to get delayed in probate court if they can only find a copy of your documents or, even worse, no documents.
Organization and dialog are critical to safeguarding your paperwork and making it easy for your loved ones to use it when the time comes.
Reference: AARP (July 27, 2022) “Storing Legal Documents in an Easy-to-Find Place for Family Caregivers”