As South Florida estate planning attorneys, we see firsthand the devastating impact that hurricanes can have on families. In addition to the physical damage and loss of life, hurricanes can also destroy important documents, such as wills, trusts and insurance policies. This can make it difficult and expensive to settle an estate after a hurricane.
Why Safety Deposit Boxes Are Not A Best Option To Store Your Legal Documents
One of the most common mistakes people make is storing their will in a safety deposit box. Safety deposit boxes are not designed to withstand the severe winds and flooding that can occur during a hurricane. In fact, many banks and credit unions close their safety deposit boxes during hurricane warnings. If you do choose to use a safe deposit box to store your will, make sure your executor and beneficiaries know exactly where the safe deposit box is located and how to access it.
In the past, many people stored their will and other important legal documents in safety deposit boxes, which has caused problems and stress for them or their loved ones:
- Your executor may not be able to access it. After you die, the bank will seal your safe deposit box until your executor has a court order to open it. This can take days or even weeks, depending on the court’s backlog. In the meantime, your executor will not be able to carry out your wishes.
- It may be difficult to prove that the will is yours. If the only copy of your will is in your safe deposit box, your executor may have difficulty proving that it is authentic. This could lead to delays and disputes in the probate process.
Better Ways To Safeguard Your Important Documents
A better way to safeguard your important documents is to store them in a fireproof safe and create online digital copies. Fireproof and waterproof safes are designed to protect your documents from the elements, as well as from fire and theft. You can place the safe in your home or office, or you can store it in another secure location.
In addition to storing your important documents in a safe place, you should also create digital copies of those documents. You can store the digital copies on a secure cloud storage service, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, or on an external hard drive. By creating digital copies, you will have access to your important documents even if the physical copies are lost or destroyed.
It is essential that you let your attorney, power of attorney, executor of your estate or other trusted individual know where your important documents are stored, and how to access them.
Here are some additional tips for safeguarding your important documents during hurricane season:
- Make a list of all of your important documents. This includes your will, trust, insurance policies, financial statements, and medical records.
- Store the list of documents in a safe place, such as your safe or your cloud storage account.
- Review your list of documents regularly and make sure that you have the most recent versions.
- Give copies of your important documents to your executor and beneficiaries.
If you do choose to use a safety deposit box to store your will, make sure your executor and beneficiaries know exactly where the safe deposit box is located and how to access it. You may also want to consider giving them a copy of your will to keep at home. This way, they will have access to your will even if the safety deposit box is inaccessible.
Where you store your will or trust is important. By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your important documents are safe and accessible during hurricane season and anytime, and available in the event you can no longer access them.
Do You Have Questions About Your Will or Estate Plan?
Call THE South Florida Estate Planning Attorneys – The Siegel Law Group
Our South Florida Estate Planning Attorneys are trusted by many families and are available to assist you and provide Peace Of Mind. We will answer any questions and concerns you may have and provide the best advice possible regarding your unique and personal situation. Call our office at 561-576-6206 to schedule a complimentary consultation or submit our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.