At a loss regarding how to safeguard your estate planning documents? Although we’ve heard of many homespun solutions–in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer; in a coffee can buried in the back yard; under your mattress–none of these options is safe or effective. Consider, for example, keeping your documents sealed in a bag in the freezer. Although it may be one of the last things in your home to burn during a fire, even a freezer is not fireproof! Moreover, your home may never go up in flames, but the documents could still be destroyed by moisture if the seal on the bag is not absolutely closed!
Instead of storing their important documents at home, some people keep them in a safe deposit box at a bank. Unfortunately, this is not a great solution either. Most of your basic estate planning documents may be needed at a moment’s notice, which means the should be on-hand and easy to find. If your documents are stored at the bank, you can only access them during banking hours. You should never store your Last Will and Testament in a safe deposit box because typically no one has the authority to open the safety deposit box until after the will is probated at the courthouse and your personal representative is appointed.
Surprisingly, the best option for safeguarding your documents is a fire-safe box like the one pictured here. They typically cost less than $30, and can be found at your nearest home improvement store or big box retailer. Keep it in your home and let those appointed to act on behalf of your estate know where the box is located. And remember: before putting your estate planning documents in the fire-proof box, it’s always a good idea to make copies and give them to a trusted family member or friend for safe-keeping and extra assurance that your documents doubly protected!