Safe Deposit Boxes
Have a plan for your safe deposit box
When it comes to vital personal documents, many people do not consider how important it is to inform trusted family members or associates of where they have stored them.
Documents such as passports, personal estate wills or power of attorney documentation should all be stored safely and securely in a safe deposit box maintained in their original form. And whilst many people, including many of our customers, do the right thing and store their vital paperwork securely, recent research indicates that many fail to put in place a specific plan to inform the right people of the location of these documents, or pass on instructions on how to access them in case the need arises.
Only a third of people surveyed told their trusted parties where they can find key documents. Another 10% only provided copies of the original documents and over 13% of heirs were unaware of the location.
Not properly informing relevant parties about where your important documents are can create legal nightmares when it comes to the determination of your assets or intentions, often at a time when family and friends may be grieving. Many wills can be complex and fraught with challenging outcomes. If these documents cannot be accessed or older copies are available, your current wishes may not be met. Having copies or digital files as a replacement is not always accepted by a court, especially in the case of them being contested. Given the crucial nature and importance of these documents, without clear instructions outlined, getting access to them can be legally difficult and emotionally distressing.
It is not only your spouse or loved one who should be informed, other parties such as your lawyer or a trusted family member can also be kept up to date. Also, consider any other relevant financial professionals you work with, such as accountants and financial advisors.
You should also make sure that any essential document that has been changed or updated recently, replaces the previous copy and that you destroy the previous version. This will ensure there is no confusion over which version correctly reflects your objectives. Any trusted person you inform should also be given access to further information they might need. For example, the location of safe deposit box keys or the contact details of the secure storage facility where you have stored your documents.
Having all of your vital documents stored in a safe and secure location is paramount, and a safe deposit box is the best solution. It provides a single, central location as well as being highly protected against theft, fire and damage. But equally important is informing the right people of the location of those documents with a simple yet comprehensive plan. It will ensure that your wishes – as well as your valuables – are not secrets you take to the grave.
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