Since wills that are handwritten or spoken are only allowed in certain extreme situations, you'll more than likely go through the entire estate planning process with an attorney to procure your will.
But, what happens next? Where should a will go to be both accessible and secure after you're gone?
Is my house a safe place?
Those who are married may feel confident leaving their will in a safe place at home for their spouse. After all, you're more than likely to already have a place to store your other important documents, such as your birth certificate, social security information, banking information, bills, etc.
However, keeping your will in your home may present challenges for the rest of your family if you and your spouse are both involved in an accident.
Wills are full of backup plans, so it's important to consider how other family members who do not live with you would know how to find your will. You should also consider investing in a lock box to secure the will and your other important documents in case of an intrusion, fire, flood or another potential threat.
Can I leave it with the attorney?
There may be a retaining fee to keep your will safe with your attorney. However, leaving your will with your attorney can be advantageous in the future if you decide to make updates to your plan.
It can also be helpful for your beneficiaries if you select your attorney as the executor of your estate. With your will ready to go, the attorney can initiate the probate process much sooner.
So long as you plan to keep working with your attorney, it's a good idea to leave a copy of your will with him or her at the very least.
The complications in using a safe deposit box
A safe deposit box is specifically designed to keep important items secure and safe from those who would tamper with them. However, using one for your will and testament will present your executor with a few hoops to jump through.
In order to gain access to a deceased person's safe deposit box in New York, you will need:
- To be an interested party (have a claim to the estate)
- The key to the box (gaining entry without one may be timely and costly)
- An "Order to Open Safe Deposit Box"
Getting an order will involve paperwork, potential fees and a copy of the deceased person's death certificate. But, this could still be the most organized and secure way to store a will for families that are not living near one another.