Why You Should Never Store Your Estate Planning Documents in a Safe Deposit Box

Did you know that one of the biggest mistakes that you can make when it comes to your estate plan is to put your documents in a safe deposit box? Although this may seem like a practical idea, the reality is that taking this step is something that can lead to many issues when you pass away.

What is a Safe Deposit Box?

A safe deposit box is a type of secure storage provided by banks and other financial institutions. It’s a small, lockable container that is typically kept inside a vault, and it’s used to store valuable items such as important documents, jewelry, and other small items that you want to keep safe and secure.

What Documents are Part of an Estate Plan?

An estate plan typically includes several important documents that help ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death or incapacity. Here are some of the common documents included in an estate plan:

1. Last Will and Testament: This document outlines how you want your assets distributed after your death, and appoints an executor to carry out your wishes.

2. Revocable Living Trust: This is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to a trust during your lifetime, with instructions on how to distribute those assets after your death.

3. Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows you to appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.

4. Healthcare Power of Attorney: This document allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

5. Living Will: This document outlines your wishes for end-of-life medical care.

6. Beneficiary Designations: These are forms that allow you to designate who will receive certain assets, such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts, after your death.

7. Letter of Instruction: This document provides information about your funeral and burial preferences, as well as any other important information your loved ones should know after your death.

5 Reasons Why You Should Not Have Your Estate Planning Documents in a Safe Deposit Box

While safe deposit boxes can be a good option for storing certain items, including important documents, there are some reasons why you might not want to keep your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box. Here are some reasons why:

1. Limited Access: Safe deposit boxes can only be accessed during regular banking hours, which may not be convenient if your loved ones need to access your estate planning documents outside of these hours, such as in an emergency situation.

2. No Backup: If you keep your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box and don’t provide your loved ones with access to the box or the key, they may not be able to locate the documents after your death. There’s also a risk that the box could be damaged or destroyed, which could result in the loss of your important documents.

3. Cost: Renting a safe deposit box can be expensive, and you may need to pay an annual fee to keep it. This can add up over time, and may not be the most cost-effective way to store your estate planning documents.

4. Limited Space: Safe deposit boxes are typically small, and may not have enough space to hold all of your estate planning documents. This could require you to rent multiple boxes, which can be even more expensive.

5. No Immediate Access: If you need to update your estate planning documents, you may need to go to the bank to access your safe deposit box, which could be inconvenient or time-consuming.

It’s important to consider all of these factors when deciding where to store your estate planning documents, and to choose a location that is both secure and easily accessible to your loved ones. An alternative to a safe deposit box is to keep your estate planning documents in a fireproof and waterproof home safe or to give copies of the documents to your attorney or trusted family member for safekeeping. Call our office at 321-804-2915 or fill out our contact form and we will be in touch to schedule a meeting.