Where Should I Keep my Estate Plan?

Estate plan
Please Share!

An estate plan is not complete until it is organized.

If you have reached age 18, you should have an estate plan.

Even without significant wealth or children, people have a lot to lose if something happens to them without a plan in place.

Incapacity is one of the greatest dangers to young people.

According to a recent The Press-Enterprise article titled “2023 check list: How to organize your estate plan,” accident or illness may require others to manage your affairs.

An estate plan can be stored at home.
Some people choose to store their estate plan on a bookshelf.

Without an estate plan, your loved ones may be fighting for the legal right to talk with doctors or financial institutions, let alone make decisions on your behalf.

Estate planning involves the creation of a number of documents.

These include a last will and testament, advance health care directive, HIPAA authorization, general durable power of attorney, and possibly a revocable living trust.

If you have these documents in place, you are ahead of many of your peers.

Does this mean you are all set?


Not necessarily.

Your loved ones need to be able to find the estate plan when needed.

This is especially true for advance health care directives and general durable powers of attorney because these are needed in emergency situations.

Do you know where your estate planning documents are?

If no, start by locating them.

Your attorney may have a policy of keeping your documents.

We do not, but do retain PDF versions of executed client documents.

In addition to providing clients with their original estate planning documents, we also proved the executed PDF versions to them with instructions to share them with appropriate stakeholders.

Every law firm has a different approach, so make sure you confirm the practice of your attorney regarding original documents and copies.

Once you have found your original estate planning documents, you should review the date they were created.

Were they created three to five years ago?

Have significant life changes happened in your life, let alone in the lives of your loved ones, since their creation?

Does your estate plan include a revocable living trust set up prior to 2012?

If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you should probably schedule an estate review with your estate planning attorney.

If your documents are updated, you should settle on a safe, accessible place to store them.

Many people prefer a location that is fireproof and waterproof and perhaps even lockable.

This should not be a safe deposit box at a bank.


The documents may be inaccessible then needed.

After all, banks are not open 24/7/365 and are closed on federal holidays.

Some people choose to store their estate plans in a file cabinet or home safe.

Others choose accessibility over security and place the binder in a drawer or on a book shelf.

If a fire or flood destroys the documents, the disaster is often treated as evidence the documents were not revoked.

In this case, you may be able to use copies you stored elsewhere.

Although you and your spouse should certainly know the location of your estate plan, you will need to share that information with the persons you have appointed in your legal documents.

If you have been appointed by someone else, ask them how to access their estate plan.

Taking these steps will ensure your estate planning serves its purpose when it is needed.

ReferenceThe Press-Enterprise (Jan. 8, 2023) “2023 check list: How to organize your estate plan”

Get All The Marketing Updates
Recent Posts
Search Our 2,400 Blog Post Archive