The Importance of Keeping Your Original Will

There are a number of reasons that a person can contest a decedent’s will, including that the decedent lacked testamentary capacity to execute the document or that a will was not properly signed or witnessed. While these types of situations do exist, in which case, it is important for a decedent’s heirs to bring the issue to the attention of the court, it is also not uncommon for a disgruntled relative to frivolously contest a will. In these cases, it is especially critical for the decedent’s executor to have access to the decedent’s original will, as this can help prove that the document is legally enforceable. If you need help drafting or amending your original will, it is important to speak with an experienced contested estates attorney who can ensure that it complies with state law and will be enforceable even if someone later tries to contest it.

Keeping Your Will at Home

When it comes to storing an original will or another type of estate planning document, testators have a few options. The first option involves the testator keeping the documents in his or her home with other important documentation and personal items. Storing estate planning documents in this way can make it easier for family members to find them if something were to happen to the testator.

However, keeping important documents in the home also comes with risks, mainly from destruction by fire or flood. If the original will is destroyed, the testator will be required to execute a new document by signing a new version and having it witnessed. To help combat this risk, many people use fire-proof safes to store their wills and other legal documentation. Those who choose to do this, however, should be careful to share the code to the safe with a close relative or heir, as failing to do so could make it extremely difficult to access the documents in an emergency situation.

Storing Your Will in a Safe Deposit Box

Those who feel uncomfortable storing their wills at home often choose to keep their original versions in a safety deposit box at the bank. This method ensures that testators have peace of mind and know that their documents are being kept in a secure and safe location. There is a downside to this method, as it can be difficult to gain access to someone else’s safe deposit box after they pass away. One way to avoid this problem is to list a family member as a co-owner of the box. Fortunately, even when a relative is not listed on an account, safety deposit boxes can still be accessed after the owner passes away, although the family member will be required to present an affidavit to the bank and will still only be permitted to open the box for the purpose of removing a will, codicil, or burial documents. Finally, many testators choose to avoid these potential complications by leaving the original version with their estate planning attorney’s office.

Call Our Glenview Contested Estates Legal Team Today

If you have questions about storing your original estate planning documents, please call 847-325-5559 and a member of our team will help you schedule a consultation with one of the dedicated contested estates lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law. We are prepared to assist you immediately.

Updated as of July 2019
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