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I'm often asked, "Where should we keep our last will and testament?"
This is an important issue because, after you pass away, your original last will needs to be filed at the courthouse to start the court-supervised probate process (often called "Succession" in Louisiana). You have several options when it comes to where you should store your last will.
Some people mistakenly believe that all Wills are stored at the courthouse. Your Will does not get filed at the courthouse until after you pass away and the Succession is underway. A probate/Succession cannot get started until after someone dies.
Some choose to keep their original last will at their residence. This keeps the will easily accessible, but many Louisianians lost all of their important legal documents in recent hurricanes and floods around south Louisiana. If you do keep your last will and testament in your home, perhaps you should keep it in a waterproof and fireproof safe, preferably one large enough or built into the structure to prevent theft.
Others decide to keep their will in their bank safe deposit box. If you do this, you must make a decision regarding whether you want to grant someone else the authority to access your box. If no one else is "on" your safe deposit box, then a court order will be necessary after you pass away to open your box and access the contents of your safe deposit box.
Some people, at their attorney's suggestion, allow their attorney to keep their last will and testament. I've never been a big fan of the attorney keeping the originals of all of the Wills that he or she prepared. Attorneys can move around often. In addition, an awkward situation arises when the survivors may not want to use the legal services of that particular attorney or law firm after the death of a loved one. Many attorneys keep the original wills of their clients because it gives them a competitive advantage when it comes to the lucrative probate work that is necessary of the death of the will-maker.
The Louisiana Legislature has authorized the Secretary of State to maintain a Will Registration Form. While you cannot enclose a copy or the actual will, you can document the intended place of our will or the name and address of someone who has information regarding where your will is located. We don't see this Louisiana Secretary of State Will Registration Form used very often.
While there may be no "perfect place" to keep your last will and testament, you should, at least, let your trusted love ones know of the existence and location of your last will and testament.
This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450
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