Your wills and trusts contain crucial information towards your asset distribution upon death as well as medical preferences in the later years of your life. However, several circumstances can occur where you could either lose it or not know how to access it. While your attorney often holds onto copies of important legal documents, you might want to consider having some backup ones that you want yourself or someone else to access to in case of an emergency.
Some might prefer limiting the amount so that it can be simple to remember and so it will not be easily discovered by others. However, while you do not have to have multiple estate planning documents you can grab anytime, it may be a good idea to have at least a couple available as a backup. Here are a few reasons why:
You forgot how to access one
Many prefer keeping important information such as their medical records and tax returns in a safe so it can be nice and secure in a small location where no one but them can access it. Having the documents online through a secret password is also becoming a popular method. However, both of these have one protocol in common: You need a code to open it up. Some trust their memory too much to write it down or potentially lose the post-it note the combination or password was on. If one method fails, then you can give your other storage a try. Regardless of which method you use, make sure you have some note on hand on how to access it.
You need someone else to access it
Unfortunately, you do not know what will happen to you in the latter years of your life. You could end up incapacitated from a horrible accident or develop a mental disability such as dementia. While it is understandable if you want to keep these documents hidden from your inheritors, you should make sure at least a few people such as your durable power of attorney know how to access it. That way, your friends and family will know what you want in the event of a medical emergency.
You lost the document
Thousands of Californians have recently lost their important documents alongside their homes from the devastating wildfires this year. As a result, many of them have begun making “doomsday plans” now that the risk of their house burning down is higher than ever before. Even if your documents are fireproof, people might misremember their location or lose critical details such as contact information and passwords. You may not want to limit the amount of backup documents and overall accessibility for your estate plans since there are so many ways to keep them secure these days.
If you are considering alternative methods to making your important documents more readily available for you or anyone else, you might want to discuss ideas with your estate planning attorney on how to approach this issue.