Today, most attorneys give the original documents to the client at the time of signing to take home with them. [In our office, we maintain both a digital copy and 1 original just to be safe]. Some of my clients have asked me what they should do with their documents. Although most everyone will accept copies, an original may be needed at some point. There are a number of great places to keep them such as:
- Your safety deposit box at your bank;
- At home, in a fireproof box or safe along with other important papers [If you do this, be sure to have a box that can leave with you in case of an evacuation] or
- Your nominated personal representative Some recommend that if you are certain that you won’t change representatives
Your legal documents [will, Power of attorney, Living will, etc] are important and need to be protected while available when needed. We recommend taking it a step further by making an emergency sheet for your trusted agents that includes the location of your documents, the dates they were executed and the attorney’s contact information. Of course, it is always helpful to list your key advisors such as your insurance providers, financial advisor, and your attorney. If you feel that your agents/representatives will not change give them a copy of the documents they are named in also to be sure they have them when needed.
In this kind of situation I have learned from my clients. Those who have prepared their own Data/Emergency sheets seemed so much better prepared. Not only did they benefit but so did those who were named as the agents or personal representatives who were able to use that information to step in and handle things without chaos.