June 15, 2011
You put a lot of time and thought into planning your estate and creating a sound Last Will and Testament, but let me ask you one important question today:
Do your kids or heirs know where it is?
It may sound silly, but as a Gold River wills & estates lawyer I can tell you that this “oversight” happens more often than you would think.
It’s not uncommon for a person to outline how they would like their wishes carried out in a will, then discuss these wishes with their children—only to pass away without actually telling the kids where to find the document.
This is especially prevalent among families who live far apart and are not familiar with each other’s homes and lifestyles.
If your Will cannot be found at the time of your death, your estate may still have to go through the lengthy and expensive Sacramento County probate process, despite the time and money you spent to plan your estate. And if there are specific guidelines outlined in your Will that no one was aware of, there’s a good chance that they won’t be honored upon your passing.
That is why it’s so important to make sure that your kids or heirs know exactly where you Will is located, or that they at least know the name of the attorney who handled your estate planning. Also be sure to destroy any previous drafts of your Will – it can be very difficult for a loved one to prove your real wishes if there are two undated Wills floating around that tell conflicting stories.
You’ll also want to notify your heirs about the location of any lockboxes, safes, or any other private information, including passwords to online accounts, that will need to be known upon your passing. If you don’t trust anyone in your family with the responsibility of having keys or access to this information while you are still alive, appoint a trusted attorney or guardian to handle it for you, but make sure someone knows.