If you choose to use a will in your estate plan, your estate isn’t wrapped up when your lawyer drafts and you sign the document. You must also figure out where you wish to store it. Ideally, you’ll want to keep a will somewhere secure. However, you should not choose a place your executor can’t easily access. In the following sections, we’ll discuss where people in Cedar Rapids may decide to keep their will and the pros and cons of each option.
Keeping Your Will in a Safe Place at Home
People often choose to store their will at home. You don’t have to pull out all the security stops to keep your will safe, but you also shouldn’t tuck it away in a typical file cabinet.
If you’re thinking about storing your will at your residence, consider these pros and cons:
- Convenient for changes – We encourage you to regularly update your will. If you store your will at home and decide to replace it, it’s easy to void the previous one.
- Convenient for your descendants – Your loved ones will have an easier time locating your will if you keep it at home. To prevent frustration, ensure that your executor knows the key locations, combinations, and other information they’ll need for access.
- Prone to accidents – Ensure that you keep your will in a protected place, such as inside a weather and fire-resistant safe. If you store it in an ordinary file or binder, you may mistake it for another document and accidentally destroy it.
- Tied to your house’s safety – Simply because your will is where you live doesn’t make it immune from disasters and theft. If your property is burglarized or destroyed in a storm or fire, your will’s safety is in jeopardy.
Keeping Your Will at the Bank or a Storage Facility
Many banks in the Cedar Rapids area offer safe deposit boxes where clients can store sensitive documents. You might consider leasing one of these boxes for your storing your will. If you do, consider these points:
- Safety from theft – While bank security is not airtight, safe deposit boxes will be behind thick walls and time locks to protect your will more securely than you could at home.
- Safety from other parties – If you allow only your executor permission to access your box, they’ll be able to get to your will when the time comes, but no one else can.
- Potential hiccups during access – If you don’t allow your executor access to the safe deposit box ahead of time, they will need to work with the court to open it, adding unnecessary time and fees.
- Keep the key – If you lose your key, access to your will becomes more complicated. You may have to pay the bank an expensive fee to replace the key or force the box open.
Storing Your Will Online or in a Computer
While your original and official will must be printed on physical paper, you may choose to keep a copy on your computer or use a digital storage service like Google Drive.
If you keep a digital copy of your will, its security is not guaranteed. A data breach could enable a stranger with nefarious intentions to access it. Even if you keep a local copy on your primary computer, you may risk the possibility of fraud or family drama if someone finds it.
We should note that states are increasingly moving toward allowing their residents to make completely electronic wills. Iowa does not have this option, but if you created an electronic will somewhere where it is permitted, our courts might still recognize it according to state law.
Keeping Your Will with Your Lawyer
In days of yore, people often decided to keep their will with their estate planning lawyer. However, while it may be the most convenient option and is advisable in some cases, this practice has serious risks. If something happens to them or their firm, a responsible party must locate anything you left with them and return it to you. This process may take time you or your loved ones may not have, and there’s a risk that the firm’s representative may lose your will. Therefore, some lawyers may decline to store their clients’ documents once they’ve finished preparing them.
What’s the Best Place to Store Your Will?
Where you choose to keep your will is ultimately your call. However, we advise you to balance accessibility with security and keep your executor updated on your selected location.
The Cedar Rapids estate planning attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC are happy to answer any questions you may have about the practicalities of where to keep your will once it’s complete. Contact our office at (319) 363-8199 for a consultation with our estate law team.