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How and Where to Store Important Paperwork

Making sure that important documents are safely stored and easily accessible to your executor are crucial steps...

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Thorough estate planning ensures that your estate is protected and that your loved ones are properly taken care of after you’re gone. If you die without a will, or if you're unable to advocate for yourself and don't have a living will, then the state must intercede, placing someone that you may not have selected as your executioner.

However, even if you have these documents properly prepared if they aren't properly stored and protected, then they may not be found, or your executor may not have the documents they need to properly do their job. Therefore, making sure that important documents are safely stored and easily accessible to your executor are crucial steps in ensuring your estate can be quickly and efficiently settled after you’re gone.

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What Documents Will My Executor Need?

You can have both a will and a living will. A will distributes your assets to your loved ones according to your wishes after you pass, while a living will contain directives that help protect your financial future, setting up a trust to pay for long-term care, or to manage your healthcare. The executor will need both, if they exist.

They'll also need copies of your life insurance policy, and for a living will, often your health care policy, too, which can determine what your insurance covers. Copies of your identification papers, such as a birth certificate, driver's licenses, and marriage certificates or divorce decrees may also be necessary.

Where Should Important Papers Be Stored?

You should have notarized copies of your will filed with your lawyer, if you have one, and in a safe place in your home, such as a filing cabinet with a dedicated space for important documents. You can also opt to give copies of your will and living will to your executor, so that they know who to contact, such as your lawyer, investment account holders, and any other relevant parties. Make sure that each item is dated, and is up to date as your circumstances change, too, such as marriage, having a child, and divorcing.

Storing copies in your own home is especially useful if you're planning for your spouse or another family member to be an executor. Make sure that they know where to find the paperwork. Having digital copies can help, too, which you may wish to email to your attorney and executor, or store on a thumb drive in your safe at home. You can also store important papers in a bank’s safety deposit box, but just be aware that your estate executor will need your will in order to access these.

Since it’s advisable to store copies of important paperwork in various locations, it’s smart to consider all of the above options together, even if it seems like overkill now. Trust us, your estate executor will thank you. Another great location for important documents? A modern and safe digital vault, like ClearEstate’s Vault ID. This secure vault allows executors to access your information in minutes, saving them days of digging.

Professional Estate Planning For You

Clear Estate can help ensure that your wishes for your estate are followed, including determining how you allocate your assets, who to cover for insurance policies, and what to look for when choosing an executor. We can also ensure that your will is set up to follow proper laws and that you have a living will that ensures your wishes are followed if you're unable to. Give us a call or visit us online today to learn more!

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