Do you have a fire safe at home? If you don’t, you should. It’s an important piece of any Estate plan, and too often overlooked. Some people prefer safe deposit boxes, but I like the convenience of being able to access important documents 24/7. All of my kids know where our safe is located, and the older ones should know how to get into it (note to self: teach Gretchen and Grace how to open the safe!).
A good fire safe is not cheap. Here is a link to an example of a safe with good fire, water, and theft prevention: Fire King Safe.
I think a safe is a great investment.
Why? I believe a personal fire safe is the best place to keep your original, signed, and executed Last Will and Testament. Your attorney and financial adviser probably have copies of your Will, but the originals are very important if you want to insure a smooth testamentary process for your heirs.
You want your loved ones to be able to gain access to your documents at your death, but probably not before. In addition, you don’t want old previous out-of-date versions of original Estate documents floating around in file cabinets or in your children’s homes, because they can create a firestorm of confusion at your death.
The easiest and best solution is to have a personal fire safe in your home with only the most recent up-to-date Last Will and Testament waiting within. Let your attorney and your financial adviser know where your safe is located, and let adult children know how to access your safe.
Besides your Will, here are some other documents you should consider storing in a fire safe:
*Power of Attorney
*Social Security Cards
*DD-214 Separation of Service, Armed Forces (also should be recorded in your county)
*Life Insurance Policies
*Letter to Heirs – see this blog post for details: Topics to Address to Heirs
*Last seven years of Tax Returns (believe it or not, the IRS should not be relied upon as a backup plan)
Can you think of anything else? As a rule, the items we keep in our safe are hard or impossible to replace and not needed on a regular basis.
In summary, think of your fire safe as an extension of your Estate plan, and an insurance policy against the loss or destruction of your Will or other important documents.