In an article last fall we discussed the consequences of lost Wills and Trusts, along with suggestions about where to store these documents. It’s a topic that comes up frequently and, unfortunately, it generally arises after a loved one has died and the heirs have begun the process of settling the estate and are unable to locate these documents.
The importance of having the original legal documents
Make a digital copy and save it to a Dropbox folder or the Cloud
A better solution: Execute a new Trust, avoiding any dispute about its being a copy
No copies, no validating the terms of the Trust
A few other thoughts on storing your important legal documents
- We always caution our clients to keep the original Trust in a secure place in their homes or offices.
- As a backup, you can give a copy to your successor Trustee and/or another trusted friend or family member.
- A safe deposit box always come up in discussions, but this may not be the best solution, as it could require a court order to open the box if it’s in your name without a joint owner, or if you neglect to title the box in the name of your trust. This means your Trustee wouldn’t have immediate access if you became incapacitated or died. Keep your Trust in a fire/waterproof safe in your home or office. Share the combination with someone you trust.
- If these other options are not realistic, keep your documents on a high shelf—away from floods, children and animals, though this strategy would have been meaningless for the North Bay fire victims.