Making sure probate goes as fast as possible will help your heirs receive their inheritance without a substantial delay. However, if you store your will in a safe deposit box at your bank, you may end up delaying the probate process. After you die, your heirs might not be able to access your will.
You should have no problems if you only store a copy of your will in your safe deposit box. It is when you keep your original copy inside your safe deposit box that things can go wrong.
Accessing your box after your death
According to U.S. News and World Report, if you die and you are the only person with access to the box, the only other person who might be able to access your safe deposit box is your executor. A court will need your will to appoint your executor. However, with your will locked in the safe deposit box, the person who will serve as your executor cannot assume the authority of the position. This can cause a major dilemma as a court tries to sort out the problem.
Possible ways to access your will
There are ways to keep this scenario from happening. You might give someone else access to your safe deposit box. That person can open the box after your death. However, if you are the sole owner of the box, you will have to depend on any laws that may dictate whether your heirs can open the box. If your heirs cannot access your box, it may take an order from a court to open the box and access the will.
To avoid this situation, consider keeping a copy of the will in your safe deposit box while storing the original document in a place your heirs can get to it. Some people put their original copies inside of a safe while others ask their attorneys to hold on to the original copy. These alternatives may save your heirs a lot of time, stress, and effort.