Where should I keep my original estate planning documents?

There are a couple of considerations to be taken into account when deciding where to keep your original estate planning documents. First, they should be kept under the control of the individual who has signed them to avoid their being tampered with or destroyed. It is important to make sure they are secure. Second, they should be kept in a safe place in the event of a fire. You don't want your house to burn down with your estate planning documents in the house. This probably mean keeping them in a safe deposit box or a substantial fireproof safe in your residence.


The question always comes up in our practice as to whether or not we can hold onto original estate planning documents for clients. Some law firms do keep them in their control. Almost, without exception, we do not do this. To us, it appears we are trying to capture the documents to assist the family in the administration of the estate. It just does not feel right to us. Also, there is liability if we are holding on to original documents and a client dies and we do not learn of the death of the client. There is an obligation of anyone holding an original will turn it over to the court. Most law firms, including ours, do not feel holding onto a will or trust in its original form is wise.