Most people know that having no estate plan can lead to conflict. But what if the will exists but cannot be located, or is located in a place impossible to access? Having an improperly stored will can end in estate litigation for Ontario families.
There are several documents that need to be stored as part of an estate plan, including power of attorney, health care and the will itself. These documents should be in a protected location. Many people choose to keep their estate planning documents with their lawyer, who will store them in a fireproof box. This not only ensures the documents are easy to find and remain in good condition, but also prevents accusations of meddling.
Some people may elect to keep an electronic copy of these documents as well. This can be very helpful to the executor of a will who may wish to reference the will more easily, and there is no downside to having both. However, original hard copies are important to have in order to validate the decisions. Some may also choose to share the electronic copy with those involved before they pass away so everyone is clear on the decisions.
One common mistake that people can make is keeping their will in a bank safety deposit box. This is because family members are often unable to access the contents of a safety deposit box, so they can not be accessed when needed. An original will is important in any situation but becomes particularly central should estate litigation be necessary. Speaking with an Ontario lawyer can help clarify these issues for estate planners or their next of kin.