Should I Store My Estate Planning Documents in a Safe Deposit Box?


A common question with no wrong answer. Let’s explore a few things to consider before you decide the best place to store your important documents.

Safe deposit boxes were first introduced in the mid-19th century and provided a unique solution for families in need of a safe place to store their valuables. The traditional service continues but with limitations.

The number of available safe deposit boxes has been steadily decreasing over the last several years. Some institutions have transitioned to virtual work and transactions. Others who have built new construction branches in recent years didn’t build that feature within their new workspace. Typically, community banks and local credit unions are the most reliable source for finding an available safe deposit box today.

One limitation of storing estate planning documents in safe deposit boxes is the size of the space. The average married couple who has created a thorough estate plan probably has 12-15 legal documents, multiple pages each, that would need to be folded to fit within the box. Additionally, safe deposit boxes can only be accessed by the signer(s) on the box and during the bank’s business hours.

Clients who feel their documents are best stored in this way should consider adding someone else as the signer on the box in case the owner is unavailable, and quick access is required. It’s also imperative that important support people know that the safe deposit box exists, and which bank and branch it’s located in. Don’t forget to keep track of the safe deposit box key.

Alternately, home safes and fireproof boxes and bags provide safe storage with fewer limitations. There are a variety of home safes, fireproof boxes, and fireproof bag sizes allowing a client to choose a solution that not only stores original estate planning documents, but also has room to store other valuables and important information. By way of being at home, there’s no limitation on the day of week or time of day that the storage can be accessed. It’s just as important for trustworthy people to know this storage solution exists, where in the home it’s located, and how to open it with a key or code.

There’s no wrong place to store your original estate planning documents, if the important people in your life know of the location, how to access it, and have permission to access it. Consider which solution is the safest for your circumstances, protects your original documents, and provides the easiest access during the possibility of an emergency.