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Hiding Your Will or Living Trust

Never Hide Your Important Documents Where No One Can Find Them

You should never hide your will or living trust where no one can find it after you die. This happens more often than you might think and it often leaves family members very frustrated long after you are gone. If your will or living trust can not be located, your estate will have to be probated. In such cases, there is no real reason to have a will or living trust drawn up in the first place.

You hear stories of people tearing up a deceased loved one's home looking for a will or living trust that they know exits, but they don't know where it is or who to contact to find it. For whatever reasons, some people don't trust family members or people who are supposed to be close to them, so they hide their important documents, money, jewelry, and other valuables. In many cases, they hide everything so well that no one ever finds them.

If you don't want your beneficiaries to know how you are leaving your estate, that's fine, but you should let someone, preferably a person you trust, know where you are keeping all important documents. If you are leaving it with an attorney, it is a good idea to let family members or a trusted friend know who the attorney is and how the attorney can be contacted.

You should also take into consideration that your attorney might die before you, may move to another company, change addresses and/or telephone numbers, may be disbarred, or they may retire. All of these scenarios are possible and it's not a good idea to take for granted that you will be notified.

If you keep your will or living trust in a safe deposit box at a bank or other location, let someone know, preferably the person to whom you have chosen to be the executor of your estate. That individual should also know how to gain access to the safe deposit box. The person you choose to as the executor or trustee should be someone you trust to handle your estate as per your instructions.

If you are the person chosen to be the trustee of a will or family trust, and you agree to do so, you should take the initiative to ask questions. Since you are taking on the responsibility, you have a need to know everything there is to know about the wishes of the trustor.

Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask question because you are now in a position of trust, which you should take very seriously. Many people feel that if they start asking questions, they will be perceived as being nosey or that people will look at them as gold diggers. If the trustor feels that way about you, they wouldn't have asked you to take on the task. It wouldn't hurt to ask to read the will, or living trust, and to ask where it is being kept so you can put your hands on it when the time arises.

As far as estate planning is concerned, you don't have to tell anyone how or why you plan to leave it, but having your will or living trust readily available to your beneficiaries when the time comes can make things much easier on everyone involved.

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