After signing the estate planning documents, our clients are given their original signed documents and copies of their documents in a red Estate Planning Portfolio. Mary Falk, the principal of the law firm, feels very strongly about our clients retaining their originals documents. Her view is that they are your documents and therefore you should retain the originals. Our law firm retains copies only. We recommend our clients put their originals in a locked, 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. Scanning and then destroying the originals is never a good idea. Remember you can never replace originals documents. If you lose your originals, you must resign all the documents, which is costly.
Additionally, you want to make sure you have protected other important documents; birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, deeds to your home and other properties. Almost as important as protecting important documents from destruction is to make sure you have a list of where these documents are located. Should your attorney-in-fact, successor trustee or executor need access to your documents, you should leave a location list if you are unable to tell them where they are located. We provide a document called “Location of Important Papers” in the back of each of our client’s Estate Planning Portfolio, so that you can let your successor trustees know where you have stored your documents.
Save yourself a lot of hassle and time by placing your estate planning documents and other important legal documents somewhere safe and don’t forget to let your attorney-in-fact, successor trustee or executor know the location of these documents.