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Where Should You Keep Your Pocatello Estate Planning Documents

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

On this website and throughout the various blogs that we post we talk at length about what you should include in your estate plan and how you make sure that your estate planning is valid and complete. The documents that comprise a basic estate plan include a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care. An estate plan could also include various trusts and other estate planning documents used to provide for your family and loved ones in the particular way that you choose. The purpose of this article is not to talk about getting your estate planning documents done. Rather, this article assumes that you already have your estate planning complete. The purpose of this article is to talk about what you do with your estate planning documents once you have them completed.

At the Racine law office, we have a team of premier Pocatello estate planning attorneys who work with each client not only to create their customized estate plan, but also to help our clients understand what to do with their documents once they are completed. Our team of Pocatello estate planning lawyers includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys have earned the highest rankings possible on several legal rating services. These services include AVVO, Martindale and Hubbell, and Justia, and are based on reviews given by other attorneys, judges, and most importantly our current clients.

Estate planning is designed to give you the ability to give away your money, property, and other Assets in any way you choose after you die. More importantly, estate planning is designed to protect you while you are alive. Because there are several different types of estate planning documents included in a complete estate plan, what you do with these documents is different based on how these documents help you. Below is a list of the basic estate planning documents and a description of what you should do with them after you have them completed.

Last Will and Testament

Your last will and testament is a document that is designed to give you the ability to specifically describe who will receive your property, money, and assets after you die. It’s important to note that your last will and testament actually does not become valid until after you die. The reason for this is that you are free to change it anytime you choose which means you could also change who will receive your estate after you pass away. When it comes to a last will and testament, the most important thing to know is that in order to carry out your wishes your family and loved ones will need to have your original last will and testament after you pass away.

Specifically, during the probate process, the court who is overseeing the probate must have the original last will and testament filed. This is a statutory requirement under existing Idaho law. The basic reason for this is to assure the court and your family and loved ones that they are in fact carrying out your final wishes. By having the original last will and testament, everyone involved we’ll know that they are in fact doing what you specifically said you wanted.

Because the original last will and testament is needed, where it is stored is very important. When we assist our clients and completing their estate plan we offer and advise our clients to leave their last will and testament with us. We have a fireproof filing system that allows us to store this important document for our clients. Then, when they pass away, their family can contact us, and we can assist them through the probate process with the original last will and testament.

Because a person’s estate planning is their own personal property, we do have clients who do occasionally want to keep their original last will and testament themselves. When this happens, we suggest you our clients that they make sure their last will and testament is in a safe and secure location where it won’t be lost, destroyed, or suddenly come up missing.

Powers of Attorney

The powers of attorney, including the durable power of attorney and the healthcare power of attorney are different than the last will and testament. This is because these documents usually become effective immediately upon being signed. The reason this occurs is because these documents are the documents that may protect you during while you are alive. Because these documents may be needed while you were alive, we always suggest to our clients that they take the original Powers of Attorney so that they and their family can have them available if and/or when they may be needed.

Again, it’s important to understand that in order to be effective you and your family need to have the original Powers of Attorney. If these documents are taken to a bank, or some other financial institution, or two the hospital, doctors office, or other health care provider, they all want to see the original document. Then, usually a scanned copy of the original will be made and placed on file. as a result, the original Power of Attorney usually goes back to the individual so they can continue to keep it safe.

Other Important Documents

In addition to your last will and testament, and your Powers of Attorney, there are other important documents that usually make up a basic estate plan for our clients. These important documents include insurance policies, prepaid funeral contracts, mortgages and other debts, titles and deeds two vehicles and real estate, and an individual’s Bank, investment, and retirement account information. You may also leave some specific instructions to your family members about where to find these documents, or where other important items or documents may be stored.

Again, it doesn’t do any good if these documents are not taken care of or are stored in a place where your family can never locate them. Rather, it is wise to store these documents in a generally known location that is both secure and safe. In this way, if your family needs these documents, they will know where to find them.

Some clients store these documents in a binder. Others will put these documents in a home safe. Additionally, other clients may put these documents in a safe deposit box at a bank or other financial institution. There is no one right way on how to store these kinds of documents. The most important thing is simply to keep them safe, keep them organized, and help your family understand where they are located so they can be used when needed.

Enlist a Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Pocatello lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems.

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