Estate planning doesn’t need to be complicated.  The key is to keep it simple.

Although I have practiced for more than thirty years including serving as a probate judge, that does not mean that everything in my own family goes as it should and in fact, it provides a great case study for how not to do things.

After my father’s death, we received a bill for more than five hundred dollars from his bank for his safe deposit box. He had never mentioned he had a safe deposit box.  We didn’t have the key.  What could my father possibly have put in the safe deposit box? Eventually, we decided that we needed to find out what was in that box. The bank required the payment for the safe deposit box – almost five hundred dollars.  Since we didn’t have a key, they would have to drill it open. In a few days, we would have the “locked jewels” in our possession.  Days later a manila envelope arrived with the contents of his safe deposit box – the manual for his mobile home.

If you decide to keep jewelry, coins, and other personal property in your safe deposit box, make sure you tell someone you trust. That is usually the person you have chosen as the personal representative for your will.  Although storing your personal effects in a safe deposit box may be safer than the coffee can in the kitchen, it doesn’t mean it’s always the wisest choice.  Reducing family chaos, conflict and delay by creating a notebook of important documents that your family can refer to after your death, and discussing the location of those valuable items and how you’ve chosen to keep them secure may be a wiser and simpler strategy.

Leave a legacy, not a family feud.

If you would like a free family assessment for assuring that your estate planning, real estate, long term care, and death directives are in place, call Attorney Linda Carley at 386-281-3340. Linda Carley has more than thirty years of legal experience, including serving as a probate judge.