To find it? Recently I read an article about the U.S. Will Registry. It’s a free website where you can upload either the will/trust documents themselves or just say where you have your estate plan stashed. And who is allowed to see it.
This seems like a great idea just in case:
- Your will gets destroyed in a fire, flood, sinkhole, or shredder accident.
- You forget where you put it and didn’t tell anyone.
- You die before telling anyone where the will is or leaving a copy with your executor.
- You develop cognitive issues and can’t communicate where your documents are.
What happens if you have a will and it can’t be found? It’s considered the same as if you never wrote the will at all – dying intestate (that is not a grisly cause of death, just the name they give it if you don’t have a will).
When you die intestate, your assets will be distributed per a state list, which is not necessarily what you want. At the very least, specific bequests to more distant relatives or friends will not be honored. At the worst, families can fight over the assets in a public and expensive way.
Is the only way to backstop this the U.S. Will Registry? No, there are others. Also some states and some counties allow you to register your will with the local government agency. The best thing to do is tell your executor where you keep your will. And if you move it, tell them that, too.