Getting Started on Your Will
In order to assist you with your estate planning, your estate planning attorney will collect information about your assets, your family, and your wishes. Every asset must be reviewed to determine how it is titled (do you own it outright yourself or with another person, does the asset go directly to beneficiaries, or is it an estate asset that will go through probate?). Often, the way a deed is titled affects the way it will pass to your heirs.
Where to Keep Your Will
While it is helpful to keep a copy of your Will handy either electronically or a paper copy for frequent review, your original Will should be kept in a safe deposit box or fireproof home safe. If none of that is available to you, you are permitted to lodge your original Will with the Clerk’s Office of the Circuit Court in the City that you live. If all else fails, a refrigerator is generally considered to be fireproof, but you wouldn’t want to store it anywhere it could be ruined by a food accident.
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Regardless of where you store your Will, you need to make sure it is accessible to your named Executor. If you choose to store it in your safe deposit box, you must ensure that your Executor (and successor Executor) are listed as persons who may access your box in the event of your death. A fireproof home safe may be your best option and can be used to safeguard other valuable paperwork, passports, and backup hard drives.
Sharing your estate plan with your Executor while you are alive is also a good idea. They can ask questions and make sure they know what you intended. If questions arise and the court becomes involved in the administration of your estate, then the testimony of your expressed intentions and wishes to your Executor becomes evidence in the court hearing. Having an Executor familiar with your plan, and the location of your original documents is an essential part of the implementation of your estate plan.