So you’ve finally decided you are going to ‘get around to’ having your last will and testament drafted by your attorney. Good for you! About 8 out of 10 Americans never do ‘get around to it.’ So now that you have scheduled your appointment with your attorney, here are two things I want you to consider:
First, have all of your protective documents drafted at the same time – a power of attorney, living will, health care power of attorney and any other documents which you might need.
Second, decide where you are going to store your last will and testament. That might sound trite, but it is very important. What good is having your last will and testament (and other protective documents) in order if no one knows they exist, or worse yet, no one can find them after you are gone.
Some attorneys insist on keeping the original and only giving you a copy of each document. The problem is, you may need to access that document at a time when that attorney is not available. Additionally, sadly, some attorneys want to keep the only original so that when you pass away, your grieving family is forced to talk to that particular attorney, thus encouraging business into their doors at a time when your family is grieving their loss.
There is no requirement that the attorney who drafted a will must also assist in the administration of that will. You own the document. You can take control of it the moment it is signed.
Other attorneys will execute multiple originals, keeping one in their own safe keeping, and giving one to you for the same. There are pros and cons to this arrangement. I believe the pros far outweigh the cons, as you are insured of having an original which the Register of Wills will accept if you happen to misplace your copy (and this happens with some frequency). It also gives you the peace of mind, knowing that there is at least one original which is out of the reach of prying eyes.
Keep your appointment with your attorney and get your last will and testament drafted. And while you are there, have the rest of your protective documents drafted. Then decide where these documents will be stored. You will be glad that you did.