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Where do you put your Trust?

Will, Trust, Estate Planning, Where to store the paperwork.

One question clients often ask me after we have executed their estate plan is "What do I do with these papers when I get home?" It's a good question because we need to make sure we keep the client's private information secure while still making sure that their documents can be found and wishes followed after the client passes on. You want to put your estate plan in a safe place where someone you trust can still find it. The truth is that the particulars depend on whether the estate plan is a Will versus a Trust or Transfer On Death Deed.

For example, if an elderly person were to store their Will in a Safe Deposit Box at the bank, then they've basically "locked the keys inside the car." Absent joint ownership or beneficiary designation, the Will is the document that says who should be the one to open the Safe Deposit Box in the first place. A case like this would likely require going to probate court if the assets are sufficient.

If that same client had a Revocable Living Trust instead and that Trust has been funded with property or assets titled in the name of the Trust, then we have more safeguards to overcome obstacles like missing paperwork. In fact, if the original Trust paperwork were to burn up in a house fire, we still have a record at the county or institution level that a Trust existed and we can do our best to make sure the wishes of the deceased are followed while avoiding going to probate court.

Likewise, a Transfer On Death Deed is recorded with the County Court Clerks and there is a record of the decedents wishes, so if the original deed were to be washed away by a flood, it would not change anything and the property would not have to pass through the probate courts. Avoiding probate means saving grieving families thousands of dollars in legal fees and months or years of dealing with bureaucracy, creditors, and the court system.

Keep your estate plan in a safe place, where it can still be found when necessary. Give a copy to someone you trust, or at least instructions on where the originals can be found.

If you don't have an estate plan, call an estate planning attorney today to help protect your family, your dignity, and your legacy.

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