A common non-legal question estate planning attorneys get is where you should keep the documents we draft for them. As is so often the case in law, the best answer is “it depends.” For most people, I feel a lock-box inside the house is usually the best solution, but in some cases, the traditional “valuables in the safe deposit box” approach remains a better choice. Here are some of the major considerations:
The Merits of the Fireproof Lock-Box
Most of my clients are people with spouses and children who get along well, or even if they bicker or are distant, have some modicum of respect and integrity amongst them. The kids will know the basics of their parents’ estate plans, and anyone who is asked to be a power of attorney, healthcare representative, or trustee of a trust will get copies of the documents naming them to those positions. You might even give the named executor a copy of your will. In any of these cases, I’m a big proponent of fireproof lock-boxes, like the Sentry 1100 or F2300 (also waterproof, pictured above). These and similar boxes, about the size of two small loaves of bread, can be kept in a bottom file drawer, closet, or under your bed. They are easy to find, can hold all of your important documents, and offer a modicum of fire and water protection. The locks are laughable – on the First Alert version it’s a plastic clasp – but this is usually a good thing: it’s sufficient to keep prying eyes away, but can be accessed in an emergency even without the key.