Estate Planning Considerations: Should you keep your will in a safe deposit box?

by | Jun 30, 2021 | Firm News

Once you have a will prepared, consideration should also be given to where you should keep it.

Clients frequently ask if they should keep important papers, such as their Will, Deed to their home, burial plot deed or funeral instructions or life insurance policies, in a safe deposit box.  In order to made those decisions, the main issue you should think about is access.

Many recommend keeping your Will in a fire-proof metal box at your home and that your next of kin or executor know where it is and how to open the box. This provides the easiest and quickest way to access this important document.  However, if you decide for whatever reason (including simply for privacy or to insure against theft or loss) to keep the Will in your safe deposit box, it is also acceptable.  Generally, a safe deposit box cannot be opened until an executor of the Estate is appointed and a bank representative is available to conduct an inventory.  There is an exception to this rule which permits entry into a safe deposit box,  in the presence of a bank employee, to remove a will and/or burial instructions.

In addition to consulting with a lawyer for your estate planning questions, with respect to inheritance taxes and whether you should keep your will in a safe deposit box, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue has published an informational brochure which provides helpful guidance.  You can find it here.