Visalia, CA Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How To Keep Your Will Secure, Yet Accessible.


You’ve Established an Estate Plan. Do You Know Where the Documents Are? Does Your Family?

For most people, finally establishing an estate plan is a big step that they have undertaken after years of delay. A second step is making decisions regarding the executor, trustees, beneficiaries, funeral costs and debt, and a third step is actually completing the Will. There is, however, a fourth step that is often skipped: placing the original will and other critical documents in a place where it can be found when it is needed

As far as Wills are concerned, this step is more important than you might think, for two reasons:

  1. If your Will can’t be found upon your death then, legally, you will have passed away intestate, i.e. without a Will.
  2. If your loved ones can only locate a photocopy of your Will, chances are the photocopy will be ruled invalid by the courts. This is because the courts assume that, if an original Will can’t be located, the Willmaker destroyed it with the intention of revoking it.

Options for Storing the Original Copy of Your Will 

Because an original Will is usually needed by the probate court, it makes sense to store it in a strategic location. Common locations traditionally recommended by estate planning attorneys include: a fireproof safe or lock box, a safety deposit box in a bank, or perhaps at the local probate court (if they provide such a service).

However, with the advent of electronic storage systems and their ever-increasing security and accessibility, a new option is to store your Will is in an online document banking system. Our law office offers just such a service, simply called "The Registry". The Registry allows you (and whoever else you designate) to access your Will at any time, and from any location with access to the internet or a phone. The Registry is also ideal (and recommended) for storing other important documents, such as your health care directives.

By making sure that your original Will is safe and can be found when needed, you don’t just ensure that it can be used when the allocation of your assets and debt occurs. You also ensure that disputes, confusion and disappointment don’t occur years after your death. While uncommon, in some cases, by the time the Will has been discovered, the assets of the decedent have long been distributed according to intestacy laws and not the decedent’s Will. Intestacy laws are essentially the “default Will” that the state establishes for individuals who do not have their own estate plan.

You’ve taken the trouble to protect your assets and loved ones by creating an estate plan. Don’t leave its discovery to chance. Ensure that your executor or trustee can easily and reliably find your Will when it comes time to put it into effect. And if you haven't yet drafted your Will, we'd like to help you get started. That's why every February, our office drafts Living Wills completely FREE OF CHARGE. Call or make your appointment online today! 


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Located in Visalia CA, Joan A. Watters, Esq. Attorney at Law assists clients throughout the Central Valley of California with various estate planning and elder law. Areas include but are not limited to Visalia, Exeter, Tulare, Hanford, Bakersfield, Lemoore, Three Rivers; and the surrounding counties of Tulare, Kings, and Kern.

© 2024 Joan A. Watters, Esq., Attorney at Law | Disclaimer
PO Box 547, Visalia, CA 93279-0547
| Phone: 559-635-1775 | 559 786-0390

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