How important [is it] to preserve one's original estate planning documents? Where should one keep these documents?
If you've gone to all the hard work of preparing your will and establishing an estate plan, the last thing you want to do is lose the documents.
Before a will can be submitted to probate, the original will must be located. If the original will cannot be found, it is assumed to have been revoked if the deceased was the last person known to have been in control of it.
This is because a will can easily be voided by tearing it up or throwing it in the fire. The law assumes that the deceased did something like that. This makes the safe storage of wills extremely important. The question then becomes where to store your will?
In an article titled "Estate Planning: Importance of original estate planning documents," Lake County News suggests that a bank safety deposit box is a good place to store your original will and other estate planning documents.
While that is true, it comes with a caveat.
Someone else needs to be on record at the bank having lawful access to the box. Otherwise, the bank will require a court order to grant access.
Ask your estate planning attorney where he or she suggests you store your important estate planning documents. Some attorneys are happy to keep the originals for their clients, while other attorneys are reluctant to assume that liability.
If your attorney does not provide that service, then he or she likely will know a safe place in your area.