Should I keep my will in a safe deposit box?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2021 | Estate Planning

There are various obstacles that can delay carrying out your estate plans, so it is essential to avoid any mistakes that could make it harder for your heirs to close out your estate. You might want to keep your will as safe as possible so your executor will be sure to have it on hand after your death. But putting your will in a safe deposit box may cause problems.

The safe deposit box at your bank may be the most secure place you can think of to store your estate documents. It is true your bank may keep your papers safe from fire or burglary, but after you die, your bank may not be willing to let your executor access your box.

The problems with a safe deposit box

Kiplinger explains that after you die, your bank will seal your safe deposit box. The only person who can access it will be your executor, provided that your executor has proven that he or she has the legal right to act on behalf of your estate. The problem is that a court must receive your will and consider it valid to convey power to your executor, but your will remains sealed in your safe deposit box.

This can lead to a legally complicated scenario where your executor cannot receive the power to access the very document that gives your executor the legal power to act. Your heirs may have to wait for the bank to open the box and file the will with the court or for a judge to hand down an order requiring the opening of the box.

More accessible places for your will

It should not be a problem to store copies of your will in a safe deposit box, just as long as you do not keep the original copy in there. Your original will should be where your executor can access it. Some people keep their original copy with an attorney. Others use a fireproof safe at home. The basic idea is that your original will should be in a location your executor can access without the need to go through legal motions to obtain it.

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