It happens quite a lot; someone passes away and their loved ones are called on to help execute the Will and estate plan.
Then the question arises: Where are all the relevant records and documents?
While making a formal Will and estate plan is important, you also need to make sure they are easy to locate in the event of your passing.
Why do you need Will and estate plan documents?
Your Will and estate plan can be vital to ensure the financial future of your family. They outline all your wishes for the distribution of your assets to family, friends or other recipients. You can work with a specialised lawyer to put together a ‘set and forget’ document, but it also makes sense to review things and make updates when your assets change or if you feel differently about your original decisions.
If you die without a Will, the courts will usually entrust the disbursement of your estate to the person who they see as having the best legal claim. In some circumstances,
this will not be the right person, and your wishes may go unfulfilled. What’s worse, without clear documentation of your wishes it is much easier for recipients to disagree over who is entitled to what.
Keeping your estate plan documents safe and secure in the one place will prevent all of these outcomes.
The other reason to store documents carefully is to keep track of the most recent versions. If you have updated your Will but it is not stored and dated correctly, there could be confusion about which version is valid.
Which documents are most important?
According to Service NSW, there are three major documents you might need to store when it comes to your estate planning.
These are the three estate plan documents you will need to store safely:
- A Will: Your Will is the document that lays out what you intend to happen to all your assets and belongings after you die.
- Enduring Power of Attorney: Enduring power of attorney documents outline who will make legal and financial decisions for you when you are no longer capable of making those decisions for yourself.
- Enduring Guardianship documents: Enduring guardianship grants the person of your choosing the power to make medical and lifestyle decisions when you can no longer make these decisions for yourself.
Where to store your Will and estate plan documents
There are a few places where you can store your estate plan documents.
- At home: If your documents are kept at home, they are close and easily accessible. They might be tucked away in a filing cabinet or stored in a waterproof safe. However, storing documents at home may not be the best option. Things at home have a way of going astray, especially if you move house. Worse, there is the possibility of someone getting hold of them and either taking them or making changes without you knowing.
- In a safe deposit box: A safe deposit box will keep your documents safe, but it needs backup plans. You need multiple people to know how to access it in case of an emergency. If you die without providing the information, your relatives may have some difficulty in dealing with the bank in question to have the documents released.
- Online: Online storage is a modern option to store sensitive documents like your Will and estate plan, but it too has its drawbacks due to password and security issues.
- Your lawyer: The most suitable place to store your estate plan documents is with your lawyer, this means they are kept safe and up to date versions will be on file.
Your family will be able to contact your lawyer and get the support they need to access and review these important documents in the event of your death, and there will be less confusion and stress figuring out where things are, and which versions are most relevant.
Crest Lawyers will hold your important estate planning documents for you at no charge. When you have an estate plan prepare with us, we will compile an estate planning folder with copies of your important documents for you to keep while we hold the originals.
As a final note, it will also be easier to make amendments to your Will if your lawyer has the paperwork to hand.
Need help to create a Will and store it somewhere safe? Get in touch with Crest Lawyers today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this news post is general in nature and is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Whilst the information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact upon the accuracy of the information.