My office receives calls every week from former clients or their family members who have lost or misplaced their wills, powers of attorney, living wills and other important documents. When I prepare these documents for clients, the client is given the original documents and cautioned to keep those documents in a safe place.
I also suggest that someone other than the client knows where the documents are located and can access them if needed. Although safety deposit boxes have for years been the preferred repository of legal documents, you should make sure that in the event you become incapacitated or die someone else can enter the box and retrieve your important documents. If you feel that you cannot trust anyone to do this for you, I can store the original documents at my office for you. However, if I do not keep the originals and your have lost or misplaced your originals a copy of a will may be accepted by the court under certain circumstances. Copies of living wills regarding termination of life support are also accepted. Copies of powers of attorney are generally not accepted. So you should make sure that you safeguard your original documents.
After preparing documents for a client I keep the file here in my office as storage space allows. Once there has been a significant lapse of time (usually two years) with no activity in a file, I send those files to be stored off-site. In order for me to obtain those files and records I have to pay the record depository to obtain the files and forward them to me. As a consequence I charge for obtaining copies of lost or misplaced documents. Also we do not have the space to store on our computers all of the hundreds of documents prepared by my office. So if you call or someone in your family calls the office looking for your records I must to have the following information in order to provide information:
1) A release from the client to the person requesting the information.
I am required by law to protect the confidential records of my clients and former clients. As a result I cannot give out information or copies of documents to family or friends or anyone who does not have your permission to obtain this information. The release must be in writing and provided to me before I can begin to obtain the records.
2) The amount charged by the records center for retrieval of those documents(typically $20.)
It usually takes several days to obtain files stored off-site and for me to review them to make sure that the person requesting the information has the right to receive it. The copy request/release is found on this website under forms.
When executing documents such as wills, powers of attorney and the like, please discuss with me and with your family members where these documents will be located. If there are persons to whom you have given the right to receive your information, please provide that information to me so that I will have it in your file.