Where To Keep Your Will

Please don’t keep your will at home. A couple of recent cases have prompted me to revisit the answer to the question of where you should keep your will.

A client died unexpectedly, only a few months after making his will. He had gone to great pains to make a will to protect his only child and this son’s children. Because of the son’s history and circumstances, the will created trusts for the child and for the grandchildren. In the client’s judgment, the child could not handle receiving large sum of money all at once. When provided with a copy of the father’s will the day following his father’s death, the son became angry and abusive. He threatened that if he did find the will, he would tear it up. The son immediately moved into the father’s home and reputedly began searching through all the decedent’s belongings. The original will was never found.

Another client, a businessman, also died shortly after making his will. This will also was a disappointment to some family members, distributing the assets of the business in a way that displeased some of his children. After signing the will at the lawyer’s office, he took the original will with him saying he would put it in his safe deposit box. In fact, the client did follow through and put the will in his safe deposit box. Had he not, or if he died before he made it to the box, this will would have been available to disgruntled heirs as well.

Even if your will won’t disappoint your heirs and all your family members are very trustworthy, it is still not a good idea to keep your will at home. Sometimes, if clients do not have a safe deposit box and do not wish to rent one, they choose to keep their will wherever they keep other important papers at home. Most folks in this category have a safe, strong-box, or “fire-proof” box. I always caution folks that there is no such thing as “fire-proof” – these boxes are fire-rated to withstand high temperatures for a given period of time, say one or two hours, and this is often inadequate for a fire which stays hot long after it appears to be “out.” These boxes are nice little ovens.

Stop by next week for some concluding comments.

And, by all means, enjoy your week!