ARTICLE: Why Safe Deposit Boxes Aren’t Ideal for Storing Estate Planning Documents (and What to Do Instead)

Why Safe Deposit Boxes Aren’t Ideal for Storing Estate Planning Documents (and What to Do Instead)

Storing your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box might seem like a secure option, but it can create significant complications when those documents are needed most. While safe deposit boxes offer protection from physical damage or theft, they also come with several potential drawbacks that can hinder the timely execution of your estate plan. Here are some reasons why relying on a safe deposit box for these crucial documents might not be the best choice:

  • Accessibility Issues: After your death (or during incapacity), accessing the safe deposit box can be challenging for your loved ones. They may need a court order or go through a legal process to gain access, delaying the execution of your estate plan.


  • Immediate Need: Certain estate planning documents, like a will or power of attorney, may be needed immediately upon your death or incapacitation. If they are locked in a safe deposit box, they cannot be accessed quickly.


  • Legal Formalities: In some jurisdictions, accessing a deceased person’s safe deposit box may require probate proceedings. This can be time-consuming and may cause unnecessary delays.


  • Inconvenience: If the documents are needed urgently (e.g., medical directives), the safe deposit box might only be accessible during bank hours, causing further delays.


  • Dependence on Others: If you are the only person with access to the safe deposit box and become incapacitated, others may not be able to retrieve essential documents without significant difficulty.

Instead, consider storing estate planning documents in a secure but accessible location. This could include a fireproof home safe, with a trusted family member or attorney, or using digital storage solutions with secure backups and clear instructions for access.

For personalized advice and to ensure your estate planning documents are properly managed, reach out to Roth Elder Law, PLLC. We can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs and help you make the best choices for the security and accessibility of your important documents. Call our office at 607-962-6162, or fill out our intake form, and we will be in touch to schedule an appointment.

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We at Roth Elder Law, PLLC, believe in providing services in a way that clients can easily understand and meaningfully participate in designing and maintaining their estate plan for their loved ones, as well as be assured that their plan will be administered according to their wishes.