Do you, like many Floridians, keep your important paperwork, documents and valuables at your local bank in a safe deposit box? Are you confident that renting a safe deposit box is much safer than keeping everything at home?

Have you decided, now that your estate plan is complete, to keep your original documents in your safe deposit box at the bank? If you have, we would like to share the pros and cons of your decision here in this blog.

Some estate planning lawyers may urge their clients not to keep the originals of their estate planning documents in safety deposit boxes because:

• the bank’s schedule to be open is limited to certain days and specific times or
• access is limited to the owner(s) of the safe deposit box or
• your family and/or the personal representative(s) of your estate may need a court order to get your original documents if you are the sole owner of a safety deposit box.

If you are the sole owner of a safety deposit box you may want to find another way for your safety deposit box to be accessed. For example, adding additional owners to the box. However, you may not want to add anyone or you may forget to add or use them. You should speak with your Florida estate planning attorney so that you can designate access to your safe deposit box in your durable power of attorney. Be aware, though, that banks do not always honor these documents when the time to access your safety deposit box comes. Remember, the durable power of attorney ceases to work upon your passing.

Other suggestions of where you could put your original estate planning documents to consider might be:

• in a lockbox in your home that is fireproof and waterproof or
• in your home safe or
• on an upper shelf in a secure container.

While deciding where to keep your original documents, it is also very important to make copies. You can use the copies or take them with you, instead of your originals, to your doctor or other professionals. Without any originals of your will or other estate planning documents, there can be challenges later for both your needs and the needs of your family. There can also be issues in achieving your goals for your legacy. Again, it is extremely important to discuss this now, rather than later, with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney.

Planning for the future is critical to ensure that your goals for the end of life are achieved. We know this article may raise more questions that it answers. We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.