Storing your estate documents, such as a Power of Attorney, in
a secure place is extremely important. Some of us assume that one of the safest
places to store our documents, in particular our Power of Attorney, is at a
bank in a safety deposit box.
However, because a Power of Attorney is a document people
use to allow a trusted friend to make decisions when they are unable to,
storing your document (or at least your only copy) with a bank is often not
In this post, discover a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t store your Power of Attorney in a safety deposit box and what you should do instead.
What is a POA?
A Power of Attorney, sometimes called a POA, lets you provide someone else (like a friend or family member) with the authority to make important decisions (such as financial or business decisions) for you when you’re unable to. If you’re creating a Power of Attorney, then you’re the principal and whoever you appoint to make your decisions is your attorney-in-fact, sometimes called an agent.
A person can have an Ordinary Power of Attorney, meaning the
principal is still capable of making their own decisions but can’t for reasons
such as long-term travel, or an Enduring Power of Attorney, meaning the
principal is unable to make their own decisions for reasons like they’ve become
incapacitated due to an illness or disability.
To use a POA, an attorney-in-fact often needs to have the original
document that was created and signed by the principal, which is why where it is
stored is so important and why you should avoid storing it in a safety deposit
Be Sure You Can Access Your POA When You Need It
Keeping your original Power of Attorney in a safety deposit box might mean it’s not able to be accessed when it’s needed most.
Imagine a friend creates an Enduring Power of Attorney and appoints
you as the attorney-in-fact. Your friend then places their original POA in
their safety deposit box and doesn’t create any certified copies to place
anywhere else. Often, deposit boxes can only be opened during banking hours,
which means you’ll be unable to access it after hours, on weekends, or on
If something were to happen, like a car accident that
results in your friend being incapacitated, and the Enduring Power of Attorney is
in a deposit box, you may not be able to obtain the Power of Attorney to make important,
possibly time-sensitive decisions, such as authorizing payment for medical
bills or providing funds to help family members fly to see their loved one.
Be Sure You Don’t Need a POA to Access One
Similarly, a Power of Attorney is often required by banks to
allow someone like an attorney-in-fact to open a person’s safety deposit box.
So, without one, you may be unable to access the document and start your duties
as an attorney-in-fact.
In this situation, it is easy to see how big of a problem it
would be if the very document you need to enter the deposit box is inside it.
Where Should You Store Your POA?
Although a deposit box is a great place to store important
documents, it is not a good place to store your only POA. That said, it can
still be used to store a copy of your document as long as another copy is
available elsewhere in case the bank or deposit box is inaccessible when you
need access. You can also store your POA with someone you trust, like your
lawyer, accountant, or attorney-in-fact or even in a safe in your home.
Wherever you decide to store your document, ensure that your
attorney-in-fact will be able to access the document when it’s needed.
Storing Your Power of Attorney
A person should put a lot of thought about where they store
important estate documents such as a Power of Attorney. You might think a
safety deposit box at a bank is a great place to store your POA, but it might
not be accessible by your attorney-in-fact when it is needed the most.
Therefore, it’s better to store multiple copies of your
document in a few places or store it with a trusted person or in a safe
location in your home.
The post Storing Your Power of Attorney in a Safety Deposit Box appeared first on LawDepot Blog.
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