A properly executed will is always high on the list of essential documents in sound estate planning. The decision to write a will is fundamentally important, but so are the choices made in storing the paper document once it has been produced.
Somewhat surprisingly, it has been estimated that only 30 percent to 50 percent of Americans write a will. Whether it is because of inertia or the dislike for facing a subject related to one’s death, many people in the United States put off writing a will or forgo doing so altogether. Absent a will, an estate is considered intestate, and the government, not the decedent, gets to decide who will receive a deceased person’s assets.
The same reluctance to write a will may also keep a person from sharing the details of his or her estate with heirs, including the document’s location.
At the very least, the executor of the estate must be apprised of where the will has been placed for safekeeping. Possibilities can be as simple as a safety deposit box or among a person’s important papers at home. Of course, a will may also have been placed in the possession of the decedent’s attorney.
Wherever the will is stored, its location should not be a guessing game for the executor or the family. If confusion shrouds its whereabouts, heirs will be unclear if the will they find is the final, most recent will and testament (if they find the will at all).
Honest and clear communication with one’s chosen executor and heirs is always a prudent guiding principle. Experienced estate-planning attorneys are a great resource for anyone wanting to prepare and safeguard a will.