Should estate planning documents be kept in a safe deposit box at a bank?

It is usually better to keep the testator’s estate planning documents in a safe deposit box at a bank rather than at home. Although it may be more convenient to maintain the documents in a safe at home, keeping them at home could make them more accessible to individuals whom the testator would not want scrutinizing the contents of the safe. Having the documents at a bank will ensure that important documents, such as a will, trust and power of attorney, are not lost due to theft or destruction.

On the other hand, safe deposit boxes can only be opened during regular business hours, and by individuals whom the bank recognizes as possessing the right to open them. Usually, someone who has a living trust, and who would like the contents of the safe to be distributed pursuant to the terms of the trust, is advised to title the bank safe account in the name of the trust. The successor trustee will then be able to access the safe and remove its contents in case the testator becomes disabled or dies.

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