You might think those three words - "Location, location, location!" - are uttered more by realtors than estate planning attorneys, but I beg to differ. Of course, when I repeat the phrase to clients I am not talking about the site of new home or office, but rather the location of individuals' most important planning documents.
When you hear about the importance of location, you probably think of real estate. But realtors aren't the only ones chanting "location, location, location." Estate planning attorneys are just as concerned with location, but for different reasons.
In a recent article titled "Location, Location, Location re: Estate Planning Documents," The National Law Review explains why location is important to estate planning attorneys. Where your estate plan documents are located is an important part of ensuring that your plan is fulfilled as intended. If no one knows where everything is after you pass away, they will not be able to carry out your estate plan.
Location, however, is not the end of the subject. It does not do any good to tell someone where to find your estate plan if no one will be able to easily access the plan. For example, if you put your plan in a safety deposit box, the bank is not going to let just anyone access it after you pass away. Even if a family member goes to the bank with the key, unless the bank has prior authorization to allow that person to access your box after you pass away the bank will turn him or her away. A court order will be needed to access the box.
While you are thinking about where to store your estate plan documents, remember to think about how someone will be able to access them after you pass away. If you have questions about location and access, ask your estate planning attorney for suggestions.