Safeguarding Your Last Will and Testament
As soon as you cross making a will off the to do list, take a little more time to wrap up the task by storing it in a safe place. Many people keep their wills in a safe or firebox in the closet at home. While that's a safe place most of the time, have a back up plan in case your safe is stolen or destroyed. Natural disasters and crime can happen closer to home that we like to think and you want to be sure to safeguard your will in any scenario.
Tornadoes, for instance, are not uncommon in Texas this time of year. As attorneys, part of our job is to point out reasonably foreseeable problems. What if a tornado destroys your home and you die in the process? Does someone in your family or your attorney have a copy of your will?
Where should I keep my will?
Pick an alternate location or person to keep an extra copy of your will, along with any other documents which make up your comprehensive estate plan. Here are some locations to consider:
- Home filing cabinet and firebox. Invest in a waterproof, fireproof safe for your home. Put your will or a copy of your will in the safe, with a note as to where the original can be found. Then put an additional copy in your regular household files. In the event something happens to you, the regular files might be the first place your family members think to look. If you live in a flood-prone area, consider storing your files in the attic or on a high shelf.
- Safe deposit box. A safe deposit box at a financial institution is a very safe place to keep your will, but be sure a family member or close friend knows you have a safe deposit box and the name and location of the bank. If something happens to you, Texas law authorizes banks to let a spouse, parent, or adult child of a deceased person search the safe deposit box without a court order for documents left inside.
- Trusted friend or family member. You can choose whether to give a copy to the person you named in your will as the executor of your estate. This is a good idea if you have no close family members, because your executor can use the copy to get a court order to look for the original will in your safe deposit box, as long as the executor knows which bank you used.
- Clerk of the court. In Texas, a person can file a Last Will and Testament with the clerk of court in the county where he or she resides for a nominal fee of $5 to $10. The drawback of doing this is having to rescind and replace the copy on file with the clerk if you decide to change your will in the future.
It would be a shame to gone through the process of making a will if no one can find it. So, before you put this issue to bed, give some thought to where you'll put it so your family or friends can find it when they need it.
An experienced Bryan-College Station, Texas estate planning attorney at Peterson Law Group can provide the information and assistance you need to prepare a last will and testament and comprehensive estate plan today, as well as discuss your options for safeguarding your will. Call us today to make an appointment at 979-703-7014 or visit us online and fill out the contact request form.