How to Safely Store Your Estate Planning Documents
Drafting estate planning documents is one of the smartest things you can to do protect your assets after you die. What happens after your estate planning attorney has prepared everything you need to ensure your final wishes are honored? The next thing you must do is safely store your estate planning documents so they can be executed at the appropriate time.
Most people don’t think about this part of the process. They sign their documents and think that’s the end of the process. However, it’s important to find a place for their safekeeping until they are needed.
How you choose to distribute and store your estate planning documents depends on their purpose. In this article, we’ll explore options for each type of estate planning record.
Advance directives are important as you age or if you have a chronic health condition that could incapacitate you. There are three categories of advance directives.
- A durable power of attorney advance directive appoints a surrogate decisionmaker to carry out your wishes if you can’t speak for yourself. Your designee also can make bank transactions and assist with financial needs. Their power ends once you’re no longer incapacitated and can make your own decisions.
- A health care proxy advance directive gives permission to make healthcare decisions for you to a person of your choosing. This person has the authority to refuse or request medical treatment for you if you can’t communicate your choices directly.
- A living will advance directive specify what types of medical interventions and treatments you want if you are incapacitated and can’t deliver verbal instructions yourself. You can make the provisions of a living will specific of generalized.
Once you have signed your advance directives, it’s important to keep them safe but accessible. you must give a copy of the original document to each person named as a decisionmaker. For health care proxies, you also should provide a copy to your primary care physician.
The original copy should stay with you in a safe location. Your estate planning attorney also has a copy in his or her possession.
If storing it in your home, consider placing it in a fireproof safe or other storage unit. Some people prefer to use digitally stored copies for quick access.
Trusts are a critical component of your estate planning document if you have minor children. They help protect your assets from creditors, eliminate probate time, and reduce estate taxes. You can designate inheritance for your children in a trust. Once they turn 18 and are considered legal adults under New Mexico law, they can receive their inheritance.
There are several types of trusts. Your estate planning attorney can help you decide which one best suits your needs.
Like your advance directives, you should keep an original copy of your trust in a fireproof storage container in your home for easy access. Your estate planning attorney also has a copy in their records that can be requested if needed. Lastly, you also can give a copy to your accountant or financial advisor.
Wills are the documents most people think about when you mention estate planning. A will is a legal document that spells out your final wishes once you’ve passed away. If you don’t prepare a will, it’s up to the New Mexico courts and state officials to decide how your assets should be distributed.
New Mexico law requires that certain requirements be met before a will can be considered valid. Your estate planning attorney can help you to make sure you’ve not missed anything important when preparing your document.
Storing your original will in a safe place is the most important thing you can do once it’s prepared and signed. Some people choose a safe deposit box for their wills and other documents.
Once you die, your safe security box is sealed. Your executor, spouse, parent, or other designated adult can access it with proper identification and only in the presence of an employee of the safe deposit box location. The only items that can be removed include wills and other estate planning documents, burial instructions, and insurance policies.
If you don’t want to risk any complications by using a safe deposit box, then store your original will at home in a fireproof container.
Consult an estate planning attorney
An estate planning attorney can give you advice on the best way to store your documents once they are prepared and signed. Remember, it’s never too early to start estate planning. If you fail to create one, you could be leaving your loved ones unprotected after your death.