Law Office of John S. Palmer Attorney at Law

(425) 455-5513

Storing Legal Documents

Posted Saturday, June 26, 2010 by John S. Palmer

After completing your estate plan, the original documents should be stored in a safe place, yet be accessible to those who may need them in the future, such as the Executor named in your Will, the Attorney-in-Fact named in your Durable Power of Attorney, or successor trustee of your Revocable Living Trust.

A safe deposit box is a good option, provided the location of the box is known to these third parties who may need to access it in the future. A fireproof safe in your home is another good option.

Generally, it is not a good idea for your attorney to hold your original estate planning documents because you or your family may have trouble locating the attorney in the future, particularly if the attorney moves or goes out of business.

Will Repository

An original Will may be filed under seal with your local Superior Court. In King County, a party wishing to deposit an original Will of a living person must complete a Will Repository Cover Sheet, which is available in the Clerk’s Office or online here.

A filing fee of $20 is required to deposit a Will in the Clerk’s Will Repository. An index will be maintained under the name and date of birth of the testator. Any other filing, such as a Codicil, also requires payment of the $20 filing fee. If a Will is withdrawn from the Repository, it may be deposited again with payment of the $20 filing fee.

The testator may withdraw the Will upon verification of identity. While the testator is alive, removal of the deposited Will by someone other than the testator requires a court order. After the death of the testator, the Will may be unsealed upon presentation of a certified copy of the death certificate.

Powers of Attorney

Original Powers of Attorney should be kept in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box, because third parties such as banks may demand to see the original before giving the agent named in the Power of Attorney access to any accounts in the principal’s name.

If the Principal owns real estate, it may be advisable to record the Power of Attorney in the county where the property is located, as it will make the agent’s authority to sell or transfer the property part of the public record, and enable the agent to obtain certified copies of the Power of Attorney whenever needed.

US Living Will Registry

Individuals with healthcare-related estate planning documents such as a Living Will or Healthcare Power of Attorney should provide copies of those documents to their physician(s) so they are part of the patient’s record.

Until mid-2011, the Washington State Department of Health operated an online database called the Washington Living Will Registry. It allowed individuals to electronically store scanned images of estate planning documents related to healthcare, including a Health Care Directive (also known as a Living Will), and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, which could be accessed by authorized health care providers.

Approximately 2500 people took part in the program before it closed due to lack of state funding. The database was maintained by the US Living Will Registry, a private company that still offers a similar service nationwide for a modest fee.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (425) 455-5513, toll free at (877) 455-5513, or

Local: (425) 455-5513
Toll Free: (877) 455-5513
Fax: (425) 455-5546
Law Office of John S. Palmer11911 NE 1st St, Ste. B204,Bellevue, WA 98005-3056