By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
May 30, 2019
I Wrote A Will…Now What Do I Do?
Well done. You’ve officially taken the first – and arguably the most important – step in ensuring your last wishes for your property and its heirs will be met. So, now you just have to wait, right? Not exactly.
In this post, we will share a few rules of thumb on maintaining your will now that it has been written – where to store it, who to tell about it, and when to review it for potential changes.
How to Ensure the Safety of Your Will
You probably have a cabinet full of all the most important personal information and documents you own – your birth certificate, passport, copies of drivers’ licenses, tax returns, various financial account files. Logically, a document as important as your will should go there as well, right?
It seems sensible, but it’s important to truly appreciate the magnitude of your last will and testament. The original will must be presented to the Probate Registry in order for your wishes to be executed.
Floods and fires accidentally occur in homes every day. Thieves break in and steal. And that’s just the beginning – there are countless ways your will could be destroyed, lost, or stolen.
Unfortunately, whereas replacing other important documents typically requires little more than a phone call or a couple hours in line, replacing a will isn’t quite so simple.
However, a safety deposit box isn’t always the best option either. From a place of practicality, when your will is the very document granting the authority of executor(s) to enter your safety deposit box, how will they be able to access it? Will it require court intervention?
Instead, you should either store it in a safe, a co-titled safe deposit with someone you trust, or with the estate planning firm that prepared your will.
Who Should Know It’s There?
Although it can be a sensitive subject for family members, letting your loved ones know you have prepared a will and where it is stored is incredibly important. Providing at least a phone number to the firm safekeeping your will can prevent wasted time, and unnecessary anxiety and expense hunting for these documents once you’ve gone.
If you are uncomfortable sharing directly with those who have been incorporated into your last will and testament, another option is to tell a close friend or your estate planning attorney and request that they inform the appropriate family members upon your passing.
When to Pull It Out for Review
Once you’ve created this will, decided how and where to safekeep it, and let the appropriate parties know of its existence, you make think you’re all set.
Not so fast.
This is a living document, and your life will continue to change – to evolve. Each major life event you experience likely affects the decisions you make about how you want your affairs managed after you’re gone. So, make sure you take a moment to revisit your will when they happen.
And during those periods when life is easy-rolling, the rule of thumb is to review every three years – minimum. Your loved ones will be glad you did. After all, they are the ones who pay for it, literally and figuratively.
Keeping your will safe from damage or loss, letting the right people know it exists and where it is kept, and making sure to keep these documents up-to-date will give your loved ones security during what will likely be one of the most trying periods in their lives.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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