Where to store living trust documents

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused an increasing number of people to get busy creating their estate plans. As the number of fatalities from the virus are on the rise, more and more people are becoming more concerned about having all of their estate planning documents in order — powers of attorney, health care directives, living trusts, and wills.

These types of documents will ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, provide guidance to healthcare providers about your medical treatment and care, especially end of life care, and ensure that sound financial decisions will be able to be made on your behalf. 

Once you have prepared all of the documents for your estate plan and have signed those documents in front of a notary, you will need to consider where to keep your living trust and other estate planning documents for safekeeping.

When deciding upon where to store living trust documents, the goal is to store them in a secure place, but not before making copies of the original document, the one that was notarized. Many people prefer for their estate planning attorney to hold onto the original documents, but if you are planning on holding your original documents, you need to determine a secure place to store them, and make sure that your loved ones know where to find these documents to ensure that your wishes are properly implemented. 

And, most importantly, make sure that you remember where you have stored your living trust because you could run into problems if you cannot find the original documents.

Keep it safe, but accessible

Besides keeping your original documents somewhere safe, another consideration when deciding where to store your living trust and other documents is accessibility. Some safe storage suggestions include a locked home safe or filing cabinet or a fireproof safe box in your home or office or in a safe deposit box as long as your successor trustee knows the location of the original documents and can get a hold of them after your death.

You should consider giving a copy of your documents to the individuals that have an important role in your estate plan such as your spouse or partner, successor trustee, power of attorney, health care agent, or executor. You may also want to think about giving copies to your children so that they will be fully aware of your intentions and not be surprised by any of the terms outlined in the documents.

Locating lost documents

What happens if you are unable to find your original documents? Hopefully, you have provided copies of the original documents to another individual(s) involved in your estate plan. If you cannot find lost living trust documents, your financial planner may be able to provide a copy if you transferred stocks into your trust. In the state of California, if a trust is lost, the assets titled in the name of the trust will have to go through probate. 

If you have lost original trust documents while you are still alive, you can revise your estate plan by doing a restatement. Contact the Law Office of David W. Foley, San Diego estate planning attorney, to help you draft a new living trust.

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