Letting heirs know where to find estate planning documents

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2017 | Probate And Estate Administration

Some Nevada residents may have created an estate plan but not shared the whereabouts of the documents with their loved ones. According to a 2016 study by BMO Wealth Management that surveyed more than 1,000 people, only 33 percent of people had told their heirs where to find estate planning documents, and only 10 percent gave their heirs original copies. More than 10 percent of people said their heirs did not where to find the original documents, and one-quarter said that only their spouse knew where documents were located.

According to estate planning attorneys, this could be a recipe for disaster. If heirs cannot locate the will, the state decides how assets are distributed, or an older copy of a will could be used instead. There are a few things a person can do to safeguard against this. Financial professionals that assist with estate planning and at least one other person in the family besides the spouse should know where these documents are kept. These professionals, along with some family members, should also have copies of the documents.

People should keep copies of the originals somewhere safe. Experts recommend a fireproof home safe over keeping them with an attorney or in a safe deposit box so they can be easily located in an emergency if needed.

A person who needs to create an estate plan might want to work with an attorney. The attorney might be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of various estate planning options. For example, a trust gets assets to heirs more quickly and privately because it avoids probate, but there are fees associated with a trust. An attorney might also be able to assist with other aspects of estate planning, such as creating financial and healthcare powers of attorney.