People are often aware of how important it is to have complete and up-to-date estate planning documents but may not realize that where those documents are stored can be just as important and can greatly help (or hurt, if they are not stored properly).
Estate planning documents are to be used in the event of one’s incapacity and at their death. It’s crucial that those named to serve in those documents know that the documents exist, where they are located, and how to access them. The original documents will be of little use if they can’t be located. A beneficiary named in a will may be out of luck if the original will cannot be found, and some states may make this more challenging than others. In Virginia, for example, the law presumes that if an original will cannot be located, the creator of the will destroyed it with the intent that it be revoked. Trying to admit a photocopy of a will to probate can be expensive and time consuming, and this copy may not end up being accepted.
Here are some tips for proper storage of estate planning documents: