New California Probate Code Section 710 describes your attorney’s duty of care to preserve the estate planning documents you decide to leave with him or her and which he or she agrees to keep for you. Here is what the California law provides:
If a document is deposited with an attorney, the attorney, and a successor attorney that accepts transfer of the document, shall use ordinary care for preservation of the document on and after July 1, 1994, whether or not consideration is given, and shall hold the document in a safe, vault, safe deposit box, or other secure place where it will be reasonably protected against loss or destruction.
Your California lawyer’s duty to hold the living trust or will in a safe, vault, safe deposit box, or other secure place is a reasonable one, and allows reasonable periods for the document to be out of safekeeping for the purpose of examination or delivery in appropriate circumstances. At all times the document should be reasonably protected against loss or destruction, although what is reasonable may vary with the circumstances.
Discuss safekeeping your California will and living trust with Mitchell A. Port, a Los Angeles estate planning attorney who drafts those documents for his clients.