After Friedman Elder Law prepares legal documents such as wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney and healthcare directives, one of the things our clients often say to us is, “I will put these important documents in my safety deposit box at my bank.” In normal times, this is usually a good idea. However, these are not normal times. Given the imminent threat of a statewide lockdown, if you have your important documents stored in your safety deposit box, we suggest that you GO NOW and take those documents out and put them in a safe place in your home.
We also highly recommend that you provide copies of these documents to your agents (if you have not done so already). If you do not, and your bank branch closes, your documents will be locked away with no access for anyone to retrieve them. This could pose a serious problem if you have an emergency during this time, especially if your health care directives are located in the safety deposit box.
Furthermore, even during normal times, we always strongly recommend that another individual (other than a spouse) is also listed as a signer on the safety deposit box. Even if there is a durable power of attorney (DPA) in force, remember those powers die upon the death of the principal, so an agent under a DPA cannot get into your safety deposit box upon your death. So it’s very important that you arrange with your bank for someone you trust other than your spouse to be able to access the box in the event of your death or incapacity.
At the same time, it’s important to protect yourself even as you gather these important documents. Before leaving your home to head to your bank, we suggest that you check first to make sure that your bank branch has not already closed. Better yet, see if you can make an appointment so that you do not place yourself at risk by having to wait anywhere.
If you are a former client of Friedman Elder Law, another way to ensure that copies of your documents get to your trusted agents is simply to contact us. We will be happy to forward copies of your documents to anyone of your choosing. We are here to help in any way that we can to get us all through this unprecedented time!