Now that you have an Estate Plan: What do you Do with the Documents?

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You’ve signed a dozen papers in front of witnesses and your attorney hands you the paperwork that constitutes your estate plan. What do you do with it now?

Store your original will in a safe place

Your heirs will have to file your original Will in order to have it take effect, so store it safely. This could be in a fireproof and waterproof box in your home or in a safe deposit box. But if it’s off-site, please make sure your personal representative (aka “executor”) knows where it is, and how to access it.

Make Copies of your Trust

Your trust isn’t something that gets submitted to the court, so put the original in your fireproof / waterproof box but copies are fine for your trustees to use — they are instructions for them and the bank. The bank may insist on an original. Give a copy to your trustees or tell them where it can be located.

Protect your Power of Attorney Forms

Unlike your Will and possibly your Trust, your power of attorney form takes effect immediately. This means that the designee on the form (your “attorney”) can use that form to access your funds today. Unless your designee / attorney needs access to your funds now, I advise my clients to store the forms in your home. You can put them in your fireproof/waterproof box or your file cabinet, but storing them at home prevents against your designee/attorney using them without your permission. Let your designee / attorney know where to locate the forms.
If your designee / attorney needs to act on your behalf, provide the financial entity with a copy of your form. You don’t need an original, but sometimes banks insist on them. (If you are my client, this is why I provided three originals for you to sign). Try to get the original returned to you after the bank has validated it.

Copy your Healthcare Proxy Form and Keep it Available

Because your Healthcare Proxy form only springs into action when you become incapacitated, there is much less risk of misuse of the form. Make copies and distribute them to all of your designated proxies, keep copies at home, and even put a copy in your glove compartment if you like. There is no need for an original — a copy will suffice. You may want to file it with your primary care provider, as well.
Rebecca Neale

Principal Attorney

As an attorney, Rebecca represents people in divorce, custody, and guardianship proceedings. She also advises people about end-of-life decisions and creates estate plans tailored to their needs and goals. Read more about Rebecca’s Experience here.
Bedford Family Law

Bedford, Massachusetts

Let's Work Together

When you reach out to Bedford Family Lawyer for a consultation, we will ask, “What is your goal?” We want to know how we can get you from where you are now to where you want to be, and we will show you the different paths to get there. 

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