Archive for February, 2020

Finding Missing Estate Planning Documents

Monday, February 10th, 2020

When a loved one dies it is an emotional and hectic time for those tasked with making arrangements and handling the estate. In the midst of such a difficult situation, not being able to locate important estate documents creates even more stress. Finding lost estate documents might be a frustrating endeavor, but there are a few tips to help before you begin.

Where to Look

If you know that estate documents, such as a will or a trust, exist but you just cannot locate them, there are a few places to check first.

  • Attorney who prepared the documents — Attorneys will sometimes keep a copy of estate documents created in their offices on file just in case they are ever needed. If you know who helped your loved one do their estate planning, call to see if they have an extra copy. This is not foolproof because the attorney might have an early or outdated version of the document.
  • A safe deposit box — This is one of the most common places where people store important documents, so it is worth checking into. If you are not sure if your loved one had a safe deposit box, you may be able to inquire at the bank they used to see if they had one in their name.
  • A fireproof safe at home or office — This is another common place to store important documents. It could take some searching if you are not sure of the exact location of the safe, but estate documents are often kept in home safes.
  • Paper piles and desk drawers — Think of where your loved one kept other important documents and papers. Did they have a desk? Perhaps a place where they went through their mail? Depending on how organized they were this might be daunting but could net exactly what you need.

Unfortunately, there is no universal location for storing these important papers. If it is never found, the estate could be subject to intestate succession laws.

senior couple planningPreventing Lost Documents

Looking for estate documents after a loved one has died is never ideal. Even if you can not prevent it from happening to yourself, you can make sure your own loved ones do not need to do anything similar. It is important to have estate documents together in a secure place and for those who will be handling your estate to know exactly where that is. The conversation might be awkward, but it can save them a lot of stress when the time comes.

If you need to create your own estate plan, the attorneys at Littman Krooks can help. Contact a Littman Krooks estate planning attorney for more information at (914)684-2100. Learn more about Littman Krooks at