Lockhart - a Charlotte Law Firm

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Storage of Estate Planning Documents

Storage of Estate Planning Documents

After years of delaying the decision of who to appoint as your children’s guardian, or how to distribute your vast wealth to them so they become productive citizens rather than privileged trust babies, you’ve worked with your attorney to develop an estate plan.  Now you have a set of documents that tie up all of the loose ends in the event of your demise.  Before you file your new documents away in your desk along with previous years’ tax returns, you might consider whether that is the best place to keep the things that determine how and to whom your money and children are distributed.  In addition, you’ll need to think about which documents should be given to another person and who that person or persons should be.

Your original documents should be stored in a fire proof storage unit, such as a safe or a locking file cabinet, in your home.  If your attorney regularly stores estate planning documents for his or her clients, you can store them in the attorney’s office.  However, be sure that you’ve advised family members or someone close to you of where the documents are stored.  In the past, many people kept these documents in a safe deposit box; however, because of the legal process that must be undertaken to remove documents from a safe deposit box after death, it’s generally thought that the documents should be kept elsewhere.

When deciding who to give copies of your documents, consider the following:

  • Power of Attorney:  You should give your Attorney-in-Fact (the person you name to act for you in the event you cannot act for yourself) a copy of this document.  The Power of Attorney does not need to be recorded unless you become incapacitated or the Attorney-in-Fact needs to use it to sell real property owned by you.  However, you should be aware that some banks will not accept a Power of Attorney unless it has been recorded, even though the North Carolina General Statutes are clear that any person or institution that relies, in good faith, on an unrecorded Power of Attorney is protected with regard to any actions taken in reliance upon the Power of Attorney.  Call your bank and ask whether they will insist that the document be recorded.  If so, the process of recording the Power of Attorney is simple and inexpensive.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney and Advanced Directive Regarding Natural Death (Living Will):  These may be separate documents or combined in a single document.  You should a copy of this document(s) to your primary physician and your Heath Care Agent. If you have a medical procedure, whether on an in-patient or out-patient basis, the hospital or clinic may ask you to complete a form Health Care Power of Attorney and/or Advanced Directive Regarding Natural Death.  Let them know that you have already completed these documents and give a copy to the appropriate person before you have the procedure. Having multiple versions of these documents completed can lead to confusion.  In addition, it is important that you make family members and those close to you aware of your wishes regarding health care and end of life decisions, in the event that one of these documents needs to be used.
  •  Authorization for Use and Disclosure of Protected Health Information. I recommend that you give a copy of this document to your primary physician and each person who is named in the document.
  • Will and/or Revocable Trust Agreement:  The decision of whether to give copies of these documents to your Executor and Trustee(s) is yours. However, that the Executor and Trustee(s), as well as guardian(s) for children, should be made aware that you have named them to these positions.

Even if you decide not to give copies of your documents to anyone, be sure to let someone you trust know where they are.  These documents, on which your attorney has worked so hard, can only provide direction as to your wishes if they can be located when they are needed.

Related Services: Estate Planning

Our Strategy

FOCUS
We focus on providing business owners, start-ups, small business and private companies with legal representation in business, corporate, mergers & acquisitions and technology matters, as well as estate planning and personal business services for individuals.

VALUE
We operate under a streamlined overhead structure and do not have internal billing quotas, which is a dramatic departure from the traditional law firm. As a result, we serve only one master – the client.

SERVICE
We strive to deliver practical and useful services and solutions and apply legal theory to the real world.

EXPERIENCE
In addition to being attorneys, we have worked in banking, financial services, nonprofits and military service. Our expertise and technical aptitude are informed by real life and not limited to fluent lawyer-ese.

Ashe Lockhart – Principal

Ashe Lockhart
Ashe works with:

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  • startups
  • emerging growth
  • technology and private companies in business, corporate and technology law, including:
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The Mission

Our mission in life is to provide valuable, useful, practical legal services to businesses and individuals; to help our clients find opportunities in whatever they do; and to be engaged, responsible members of our families and communities.

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The Strategy

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Value

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