Wills: How to Store and Protect

When you have signed your will and other estate planning documents there are some best-practices to follow to protect the documents. A safe deposit box at your bank is a good place. The documents will be protected from fire, theft, accidental loss, and other types of damage or harm. It is prudent to make sure another trusted person has authority to enter the box. After death they will need to obtain your will for probate purposes. Another prudent precaution is to seal the will and other documents in a water-right bag or container. Floods have damaged contents in bank deposit boxes.If another person does not have authority to enter the deposit box on your death there are ways to retrieve the will. Under Texas law your spouse, child, grandchild or the Executor named in the Will may examine the contents, but only in the presence of a bank employee. When a Will is found in a deposit box the bank must send it to the court. Sometimes banks agree to place the will in an attorney’s possession for filing with the court. In addition, Texas law provides a way to obtain an order from a Texas court directing the examination of a safe deposit box.

During a testator’s lifetime Texas law does not require a will to filed or deposited with the court. However, Section 71 of the Texas Probate Code provides a way for your will to be deposited with a court during your life. Read section 71 and understand that retrieving a will from the county clerk is somewhat cumbersome.For most folks the best solution is either a safe deposit box, a very safe place in the home, or with reliable family members. Of course, there may be many reasons to not disclose the provisions of a will with family members, and another alternative would be preferred. People who keep their wills and important documents at home might consider sealing the documents in an airtight container and placing the package in a deep freeze. It has been said that a deep freeze often tends to survive a fire better than a home safe.

Posted in Wills in Texas

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