Where should you keep estate planning documents prepared by your attorney licensed in California? Where should people expect to find your living trust, will, durable power of attorney and advance health care directive? You want to be sure that those documents stay safe and can be easily found when your family needs to find them.
Do not keep them in a safe deposit box at the bank.
The best place is in your home where they can easily be found when they are needed. Don’t lock them into a box for safekeeping inside your home since that would be as difficult to penetrate as a safe deposit box. Simply leave them in the open inside a desk, on a shelf or somewhere else that is obvious to anyone looking for them.
Your safe deposit box won’t be easy for your friends or family to open it if you’re not there. This is true even if they are co-owners of the box. Having the key isn’t enough to get the bank to open it up for them – the bank wants you to prove that you have the legal authority to require them to open it up. So here’s the conundrum: the document granting your friends or family the right to act on your behalf as an executor or as the power of attorney/agent is inside the box, and until the box is opened, they can’t prove that they have the authority to get the bank to open it…etc.
Safe deposit boxes are often inside a bank which may be closed over the weekend. If a durable power of attorney or advance health care directive is needed over the weekend, no one will be able to get to it until Monday. In a medical emergency, the advance health care directive should be easily accessible.
To speak with a tax attorney about your estate plan, call Mitchell A. Port at (310) 559-5259.