Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Elderly Couple Dies, Home Robbed of Valuables, Wills, and Deed


Image credit: www.sxc.hu - free image

Instantly I know a question that will be coming my way in the next few months -- where should I keep my will?  My home may not be safe.  Remember that elderly couple from Wisconsin who died and then had their home robbed, thieves taking their wills, deed, and other property?

The answer will be simple -- if you are not comfortable keeping it at home, consider filing it with the Register in Probate of your County.  I have blogged about this process in the past, and it is an affordable and safe way to keep one's will.

The story referenced above caught my attention for several reasons.  It is not often that I hear my first name in the news, Melinda is not all that common (although she spelled it Malinda, with an "a" not an "e").  But more importantly it underscores the need to keep wills safe and secure.  Many think a safe deposit box is the answer, but I see that cause more problems than solutions, and it is an expensive approach.

Most likely this story is an outlier.  But it allows me to offer the following tips:

  • keep private matters private -- avoid posting on Facebook and other social media that loved ones are away from home (hospital, vacation, etc).  You wouldn't broadcast this information on the evening news, so don't share in on the web;
  • store documents in a location that is known by only those who need to know (i.e. agent for power of attorney, personal representative named in the will);
  • consider filing your will at the courthouse in the county you live;
  • ask neighbors or friends to check-in on homes that are vacant (also during the time of a funeral or visitation).

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog is not your lawyer.  Please consult a licensed attorney in your state for advice specific to your situation.

2 comments:

joana lui said...
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CJ said...

This story is an outlier, but that that's what estate planning is all about. It helps you prepare for the odd cases like when there's a horrible accident and one spouse is killed while the other is unconscious.

The lack of a standardized repository for wills is glaring problem. There should be a law that they can filed at the courthouse and scanned into a national database. It's absurd in this day and age a question that involves large disbursements of wealth rests on a piece of paper in a deceased person's home.