There is no getting around safekeeping your critical Estate Planning documents. The government and some financial institutions require the original Will or Living Trust to be produced when you pass away. In most cases financial institutions accept copies of your documents.
Things to do:
- Invest in a fire proof safe and keep it in your home above flood levels to secure your critical documents.
- Inform your executors, trustees, and agents where you have stored your documents. If you also share some of the documents, they will be more prepared to take action in securing your assets.
- Make copies of all your documents. Sometimes copies can be used instead of the originals.
I can't find my Living Trust:
If you have lost your Living Trust, you can create a Restatement referencing the date and name of the original trust to replace the original document.
I can't find my Last Will and Testament:
You will need to create a NEW Last Will and Testament. Please note that if you have a Living Trust, your Last Will and Testament was likely designed to "pour over" your assets to the Living Trust instead of directly to beneficiaries through probate.
My Executors and/or Trustees can't find my Last Will and Testament:
Every state has probate rules that come into affect upon the death of someone without a Will. If your Will was a Pour-Over Will to your Living Trust, your Trust will continue to be valid upon your death with whatever assets were already titled there. The court would decide how the rest of your assets are divided.
My Executors and/or Trustees can't find my Living Trust:
Your executors, trustees, or beneficiaries would need to petition the probate court to allow the titled assets to be distributed like you have passed away without a Will.