Thursday, April 11, 2013

Keeping a Will Safe

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Making the effort to draw up a will is not common practice for most Americans.  The numbers range a bit, but reports state that between 50 and 70 percent of Americans do not have a will.  So if you are in the minority who do, ask yourself -- is it safe!

Gone are the days when lawyers should offer his or her office safe as a repository for your will (it gives them an unfair advantage when changes are needed or a death occurs).  A safe deposit box posses problems because when you die the document that states who can get into the safe deposit box is in the safe deposit box.  What to do?

Option one -- have a fireproof box at home.  Small safes or guns safes are popular choice among my clients.  Many already have one, or it can be purchased for a small fee.  Kept in the home, it is accessible when needed and affordable.

Option two - file the will at the probate court in the county where you reside.  For a fee of $10 per will, Dane County residents can keep a will safe at the courthouse.  A record of the filing exists, but the will is not actually entered or opened.  Filing instructions on the web are less than ideal, but from my experience to accomplish this you need:

  • original will in a sealed envelope
  • write your name and complete address and phone number;
  • name, address and phone number of your attorney (only if attorney is filing it for you)
  • a copy of the will, to be kept in your personal records, marked COPY Original on file at courthouse; and
  • a $10 check.
Courthouse safekeeping means you have to file any future changes (called a codicil), but is a nice alternative if you think your will might be destroyed, lost, stolen, etc.

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

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