Clients always ask me how to store their estate planning documents and other important papers once their estate plan is done. I always recommend that they fill out the attached Important Document Locator and Contact Sheet as a part of this process so that family members and friends know who to contact and where to locate important records if necessary. I also recommend that they store their estate planning documents as follows:
Originals. Your original Will should be kept in a safe place, preferably in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box. Your original powers of attorney can be kept in your reference notebook. If you have revised or updated your documents, any old/former documents—including any copies—should be shredded.
Reference Set. If I did your estate plan, you have been provided with a reference set of your documents in an estate planning binder, creating complete set for your records. The copy of the will in this binder is not signed—you have only one valid, executed will, which you should keep pursuant to #1, above. If you decide to provide anyone with a copy of your will, be sure to copy the unsigned, reference will and not the original, signed will.
Copies for Agent. You should provide your agents with copies of your executed Powers of Attorney, both General and Medical. This will enable them to have the documents and act upon them without the necessity of obtaining copies once a disability or other unfortunate circumstance occurs. They should also be told about your complete estate planning binder (if you have one) and where it is located.
Copies for Physicians. You should also provide your physicians with copies of your executed Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will. They will then be able to keep these important documents in your files so that your agents will not have to search for them in the event of illness or accident.
Copies for Home. For clients living alone, especially aged clients, I recommend that copies of your Medical Powers and Living Will be kept in a readily accessible location such as your refrigerator or freezer in the kitchen, along with a note on the refrigerator door indicating that the documents may be found inside. First responders are taught to check the refrigerator door for important medical and pharmacological information. Finding the Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will along with other such information will make their treatment decisions easier, and better insure that your dignity is protected.
Fill out the Important Document Locator and Important Contact Information forms that follow. Keep them in a safe but obvious place such as the inside of a desk drawer or kitchen cabinet near the telephone. This will help your family members and friends in the event of an emergency and also might result in you feeling more organized and in control of your life!
Important Documents Locator and Contacts
Durable Power of Attorney
Medical Power of Attorney
Original Last Will and/or Trust Documents
Living Will/MOST declaration
Personal Banking Accounts
Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates
Life Insurance Accounts
Credit Card Accounts
Stock and Bond Certificates
Long-term care insurance
Safety deposit box information/key
Internet accounts and passwords information
Agent for health care power of attorney
Agent for general durable power of attorney
Person named as personal representative in will
HomeAutoLife InsuranceLong-term Care
Primary Care Physician
Personal friend/housesitterfamiliar with home
Child care provider
Children’s school contact
Children’s local guardian
Children’s preferred babysitter
If you have a hard time printing these sheets I am happy to email you a copy either as a PDF or as a word document that you can customize to suit your needs. Just send me an email and let me know.