One conversation I regularly have with my clients is about where they intend to keep their wills and advance directives. After they execute their documents, clients want to know who should get copies and where to keep the original paperwork. This is a vital decision — and an important one for every person to consider for themselves and their present or future caregivers.
Safeguarding legal documents and providing access to this information is a big consideration in your caregiving plan. If you have a medical emergency or die unexpectedly and your documents can’t be found, then your loved ones will be scrambling to give you the assistance you need or to close your final affairs.
Original paperwork is still important
While many parts of our financial and legal lives are created and exist in the digital realm, “wet” signature originals are still used and often required when it comes to legal documents — especially powers of attorney and wills.
Security and accessibility are the two main factors in making the decision about where to keep these originals. Unfortunately, what is often most secure is not always the most accessible. For example, a safe deposit box at your bank or post office is a fine place to store certain items — but not your original documents (copies are fine). Without a key and authorization to open the box, your loved ones won’t be able to obtain the documents. This won’t do them a lot of good if you’re incapacitated and they can’t access an advance directive or power of attorney that is sitting in the box. If you’ve died and they think your box contains a will, burial instructions, a deed to a burial plot, a life insurance policy or similar, then they may be able to petition the court to have it opened. But it’s still a headache.