Keep your will safe. That seems like good advice, but how on earth can you keep a will safe when we are surrounded by bad things.
After a quick review of common fears, I will share the one place people fail to think about.
Seriously, what are you afraid of? Flood? Fire? Going to the Emergency Room?
Here are a few common suggestions on where people like to keep their wills:
- Safe deposit box,
- With an attorney,
- At home, or
- Recorded with the County.
Keeping your Will Safe from Fire
Being afraid of fire is natural, just not very likely. Obviously, having your house burn down and having your estate plan destroyed is horrible. On the other hand, you will likely live to tell about it.
In the year 2013, Minnesota saw 26 fatalities due to fire. Even though I am familiar with a specific person perishing in a house fire, 26 people out of 5 million Minnesotans is a low risk (.0000052 %).
Will Safe inside a Safe Deposit Box
I agree, a safe deposit box can be a low-cost location for an estate plan. The problem I run into with safe deposit boxes includes:
- Nobody knew a box exists,
- Forgotten locations,
- Keys are lost,
- Family members are not added to the list of patrons who are granted access.
In my experience, one stroke or car accident can make the Bermuda Triangle look more accessible than a safe deposit box.
Is your Will Safe with an Attorney?
No, do not keep your will with your lawyer. This has nothing to do with trust. Your lawyer’s office is susceptible to fire too. And, your attorney might die before you.
Even though I trust myself more than any other person walking the planet, keeping a will safe with an attorney is an outdated practice.
Keeping your Will with the County
If you are unfamiliar with your County’s property department, you can visit them at for a few dollars, record a will.
A long time ago, this was a great idea because our life expectancy was short and people didn’t entertain implementing a revocable trust. Now, this old way of doing things seems ridiculous.
First, I dislike the idea of exposing my will to the general public. Second, I want the option of looking at my will from time to time so I know whether I need to make updates. Third, I want my loved ones to have access to my important papers without involving the government.
Is my Will Safe at Home?
This is going to blow your mind, but I think a thief is more likely to steal money and electronics versus my will. Even if somebody stole my will, I can make a new one.
Also, don’t hide your will so nobody can find it. Instead, pick a spot that is sure to get noticed like your drawer or book shelf.
As of today, I encourage most of my Clients to keep their important estate planning documents in two spots:
- Inside an unlocked fire proof box, and
- The one place described below.
** TIP: You can put other important papers inside your fire-proof box, like insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses and your DD 214 ***
Is my Will Safe: One Place People Fail to Think About
The one place people fail to think about is actually two of three places:
Older generations are deathly afraid of storing their estate plan in the Cloud. I will let you do your own research, but the MyCloud product is not stored in the Cloud and generally accessible anywhere you go and shareable with your loved ones.
Whether you like Apple products or not, our own FBI spent $1.3 million dollars to break into one iPhone. As of today, I really like Apple’s policies specific to iCloud storage and think this is a credible response to the fears identified above.
Google Drive also appears to be a strong method for keeping a will safe. Here is why: a person can set up their Google Drive to contact specific people if their account is not used for xyz days. In other words, if I had a Google Drive and I didn’t access it for 120 days, I can set up a process to give my loved ones access to my Google Drive account. On the other hand, I think Google’s policy on document access could be must stronger.
Personally, I think using MyCloud along with a secondary online source is a strong response to the issues described above.
Keeping my Will Safe is a Full-Time Job
Certainly, our lives are always evolving and nobody can predict the future. My usual response is keeping hard copies in a fire proof box and an electronic version within a secure network.
One thing remains a constant: only you can assess which methods are best for you and your family.