A Tiny But Costly Mistake And Easily Made

This article appeared in my mail box on Wednesday. It contains an important point.

Where to Store Your Signed Original Will and Powers of Attorneys?


I think most people leave their original will with the lawyer who prepared it. It would of course be smart to let your executor know which lawyer that is. You may have changed since. No will found means “if your executor is unable to locate your original executed Will after a thorough search, the lost Will will be presumed to be revoked.”

That is not a good thing or even close. It could mean you have no will at all, or it could mean some prior discovered will becomes the one used even though you changed it.

Another problems can arise with a safety deposit box or personal safe. The executor has no power to open either even if they know how or have the key until probate happens. They need the will to get the probate that gives them authority. Catch-22.

It is not difficult to avoid but it is not unheard of for some executors to face the problem.

Powers of attorney are a little different.

There are two.

  1. Continuing power of attorney for property, and
  2. Power of attorney for personal care.

The article is quite clear on the Power of Attorney for Personal Care. An original or notarized copy should be available at all times. You don’t want someone looking for it in the event of an emergency. That’s sound advice Perhaps the person named should have a notarized copy.

The Continuing Power of Attorney for Property is a bit different. I think, and many lawyers agree with me, it should be held by the law firm. Why? Because some of the people who have held powers of attorney of this type have abused them. For example, I know a lawyer who had someone’s named attorney appear looking for the original document because the bank would not do what they wanted without it. They claimed Uncle Fred was not able to do the required banking regarding a significant term deposit on and he, the attorney, needed the document to do it for him. Being a wise person, the lawyer called Uncle Fred and discovered he was not disabled in any way. In fact Uncle Fred is quite smart and told the lawyer to destroy the power of attorney in their file and he would be in to arrange another.

My advice – leave it with the lawyer. Add an instruction to the file that anyone retrieving it must talk to the lawyer before getting it. You don’t want a receptionist just handing it out.

The bit to take away.

Where you store documents seems a tiny thing until it isn’t. Give it some thought.

Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.

I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

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