Gene L. Osofsky, who specializes in Elder Law, advises that while you can’t always be protected from accidents, you can often mitigate their consequences.
Some people are accident prone. It’s often a matter of luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes what seems to be an accident isn’t really one; it could have been prevented by better planning or care. But sometimes an accident is just that, unavoidable. “Who hasn’t had a computer crash without warning, or a pipe break in their basement, flooding it?” asks Attorney Gene L. Osofsky of the law firm Osofsky & Osofsky, who specializes in Elder Law. Events don’t always go right, and sometimes an important paper or a document can be accidentally misplaced and lost with the passage of time. “I’ve misplaced things,” Osofsky admits.
This can even happen with crucial estate planning documents, most significantly after they are executed. “My clients have been known to misplace things too,” says Osofsky.
To prevent such avoidable mishaps, Osofsky offers some advice.
“You should always make copies,” he says, “and these should be kept separate from your signed originals. Photocopies should be made and placed where they can easily be found by your agents. A closet in your office or a bookshelf in your library can be ideal for storing photocopies.”
Original documents should be placed somewhere safe from easy theft and in a place that’s less susceptible to natural disasters, such as fires or floods. “A home fire-safe can be an excellent investment,” Osofsky says, “I also like safe-deposit boxes, although the box should be in the name of the established trust rather than your own.” Agents and fiduciaries should have extra copies of essential documents “just in case.” Adds Osofsky, “Don’t forget your Advance Healthcare Directive and your HIPAA Privacy Authorization.” Your nominated guardians should have the original document allowing them “to make health care decisions for your minor child should you become unavailable,” he concludes.