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Don’t “Lose” Your Living Will: Storage Places to Avoid

Question: I just got back from my attorney with my estate planning documents. One of my documents is a “living will”, but I have no idea where to put it. How about putting it in a safe place, like in my bank safe deposit box?

Answer: Remember that a living will is only useful if found! You should keep your living will (also called an “advance directive”) where it will be found when it is really needed.

If your family has no idea where you will live, the document is useless. If it is never found, it is a legal document with no effect. It will never fulfill any function. The purpose of having a living will in the first place is to give authority to your agent: through that document, your agent is given the legal authority to make essential health care decisions on your behalf. But if her agent can’t find the document, she may never be able to make the decisions she wants.

where should you never save your living will? Here are some places to avoidthe first being exactly where you’re thinking of putting it:

Your safe.Sorry, but think again! If your agent doesn’t have access to your bank’s safe deposit box, obviously he may never be able to get the living will in time to use it.

Your safe house. This is like placing your health care directives in a bank vault. If you only have the combination to the safe, chances are your agent will never find it.

Giving it to someone unknown to your agent. This is another way to “lose” your directives: deliver the living will to someone other than your agent, without your agent’s knowledge. Again: if your agent has no idea where the living will is, how can you get it?

Give the original to someone in disagreement with your agent. Some of you may have family problems. Obviously, never deliver your living will to someone who often fights or disagrees with your designated agent. Remember: The purpose of a living will is to ensure that your wishes are carried out. PERIOD. Your directives should not be used in a way that is “fair” to another family member, or for any purpose other than to ensure that your wishes are followed.

Putting it where no one would ever look. This is a general category. Never put your living will in a secret place, or in the middle of a “clutter.” It should be kept in a place known to your agent, or where important documents are kept.

Many people take it upon themselves to prepare a living will, but give little thought to where it should be kept. More importantly, they place their living wills in totally inappropriate places. Make sure your agent knows where you have kept your living will.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not legal advice and its use does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any liability that may arise from your use of or reliance on this article or any link in this article is expressly disclaimed. This article should not be relied upon as legal advice, and is subject to change without notice, or may contain outdated or dated information, or information that is not relevant to your jurisdiction. If you need legal services, you should consult an attorney.

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