In the CNN report Jack, the Scottish terrier, had an appetite for paper and when his owners’ inheritance checks came from her mother’s estate, well, he ate them. His owner contacted the issuer of the checks, Bank of America. Too embarrassed to admit the dog ate the checks, she told BofA the checks were lost. The BofA representative confirmed the checks had not been cashed and saidafter a 90 day waiting period they would be reissued. Long story short, after the 90 days the checks did not come. Several calls were made to a BofA 800 number, finally to a local branch and after an executive was involved the checks were reissued. Ultimately a happy ending with a cute story, but it made me think about how many important documents are not protected and may not be easily replaced.
Our clients retain their original documents, as well as a copy in a red Estate Planning portfolio, and our office retains a copy. Werecommend our clients put their originals in a fire-safe, water proof container somewhere safe in their home. A safe deposit box is an alternative, however you want to make sure your successor trustees have access to the safe deposit box at your death and you may run the risk of not having 24 hour access to your documents.
Additionally, you want to make sure you have protected other important documents; birth certificates, social security cards, marriagecertificate, deeds to your home and other properties. Almost as important as protecting important documents from destruction make sure you have a list of where these documents are located should your agent for your power of attorney, successor trustee or executor need access if you are unable to access them or tell them where they are located. We provide a document called “Location ofImportant Papers” in the back of each of our clients’ estate planning portfolio, as well as a downloaded document on our website.
So don’t let the dog eat your important papers! Save yourself (and successor trustee(s)) a lot of hassle and time by placing them somewhere safe and don’t forget to let your successor trustee or executor the location of these documents.