Once you have your essential legal documents in place, where should you keep them? First, let me tell you where not to keep them—not in a safety deposit box. If they are locked up in a bank, and you have an emergency that requires you to have your original legal documents, how will you be able to access them on a Saturday afternoon, or on a Sunday? It would be nice if everyone had a fireproof container or file cabinet in their homes; however, most of my clients do not. So what is a person to do, to protect his or her legal documents?
I recommend that you take your Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, Beneficiary Deeds, etc., and put them in a large Zip-lock bag. You can purchase these large Zip-lock bags at most grocery stores. So what do you do with your bag of legal documents? You put your plastic bag of legal documents inside of your refrigerator or your freezer. Yes, you put them in your refrigerator or freezer. I have several clients who have witnessed or experienced fires and explosions in homes—to see only the contents of the fridge, or the freezer, survive such a tragedy.
Once you tell your family and friends (those who are the Personal Representative under your will, or the Agent under your Power of Attorney), they will have such a vivid picture in their mind, they will always remember where to find your important legal documents. If, after your death, they happen to forget where you put your important papers, when your family goes to clean out the freezer and the refrigerator, they will find those important documents.
For the safety and protection of your other important documents, you can expand the contents of your large Zip-lock bag to include: Marriage certificates, shot records, passports, social security cards, photocopies of credit cards and drivers’ licenses. You may want to include a photocopy of the first page of your investment accounts and bank statements—showing the company name and the account number. Do the same with life insurance policies.
If you experience a fire or other tragedy, then by providing for the safekeeping of your legal and other important papers (within the confines of your own home, and without paying a monthly bank fee), you could more easily put your personal and financial lives back together.
If you have any questions, feel free to give me a phone call at 303-225-0328. There is never a charge for my consultation time, whether talking to me on the phone or in person. Yes, you read correctly, my consultation time is always free.