By Elizabeth A. Caruso, Esq.

This month’s Elder Law Myth Busters will go through the Do’s and Don’ts of what to do with your completed estate plan.

You met an elder law attorney, crafted an estate plan, had it signed, now what? The next steps are different for everyone, but read on for a few Do’s and Don’ts with regard to what happens to your completed estate plan.

1. DO keep your documents in a safe place. When your estate plan is signed, there are no “official” copies filed anywhere. Only you, and potentially your attorney, have access to the originals and those need to be kept safe. I recommend a document safe or filing cabinet.

2. DON’T put your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box. This may sound like a really safe place to put your estate plan, but if you pass away, only the people with access to your safe deposit box will be able to access our estate plan. This may work out well if you have added someone else’s name to the box, but many people forget to do this and families end up in probate just to get permission to get into a safe deposit box.

3. DO tell those people who are your appointed agents where they can find your estate planning documents. Much like the safe deposit box, your estate plan is no good if no one knows where to find the documents. The point of creating an estate plan is so that your loved ones’ lives are easier if you are incapacitated or die. Give them the tools to make it as easy as possible.

4. DO review your documents every couple of years to make sure that they accurately reflect your wishes. If something has changed, make sure to make the appropriate changes to your estate plan.

5. DON’T put off funding your estate plan. If you created a trust, the trust only works if you actually fund it. This means changing the title of your assets to the trust or making the beneficiary of the assets your trust. Many attorneys will work with you when you create the estate plan to fund it with your real estate, but they cannot help you change bank accounts.

About the Author: Elizabeth A. Caruso, Esq. is an attorney at Legacy Legal Planning, LLC, in Norwell. She has been practicing estate planning, probate, and elder law on the South Shore for more than a decade. If this article has sparked questions for you, please feel free to reach out via phone 781-971-5900 or email to schedule a time to discuss your unique situation.