Where do I keep my Will documents?
Making a Will is an important task and can sometimes be fundamental in protecting ones estate, to ensure that their selected beneficiaries inherit their assets rather than their closest living relative automatically benefiting from the entirety under the intestacy rules. You can find more information on what intestacy entails here.
Occasionally, this can cause a great deal of distress to friends and family, not to mention a costly dispute in some cases. There are a number of circumstances where one will make a Will and make their loved ones aware, but the documents itself cannot be located after a great deal of searching.
After taking the time and spending the money to have a Will drawn up, ensuring that the wishes of your Will are carried out is of the highest importance. In some cases, you may have enclosed a pre-paid funeral plan and letter of wishes for your personal chattels. They cannot carry out your wishes if they do not know where to find them all. In order for you executors to do this, it is crucial that they have knowledge of your Will, where it is being held or that the document is accessible to them when they need to begin the process of administering your estate.
Telling your executors
A Will is a private and confidential document and so it is not necessary to share the contents with your executors or provide them with a copy if you do not want to. You should, however, inform your executors where your Will is being stored as they will be the ones administering your estate in accordance with your wishes. Many firms and companies have a strict compliance procedure, more so owing to the recent changes in privacy and data policies and so it is helpful if they know how they can retrieve it.
A popular location for most people is to keep their Will at home. Some may choose to put this in a home safe and others will keep it bundled with their important papers. Whilst this is the easiest and most cost effective option, you need to be aware of the associated risks in doing so.
There is the possibility that your Will could be damaged, destroyed, lost or even stolen. Another common occurrence is that the executors or family members cannot locate the Will in your personal items and so your wishes are never carried out.
Storing your Will with a firm of solicitors is the safest and most viable option for many individuals. If you instructed a solicitor to write your Will, they usually offer a free of charge storage service for the same. Some firms may facilitate storage of your Will, despite them not drafting it, although it is likely they will make a charge for this.
Anthony Gold offer a free of charge storage service for our Will clients, however do not offer access to this facility if the Will was not drafted by us. We store our clients wills on an off-site, secure storage unit, which has onsite security and is fire and natural disaster proof.
As many solicitor firms specialise in probate matters, like us, they are well versed at adhering to compliance procedures and the handling of original Wills; such as ensuring that no documents are ever stapled or paperclipped to a Will. This avoids the courts raising queries concerning the document altogether. As a professional body, we would ensure that the Will is not marked, lost or damaged in any way, whilst being held by us.
You can store your Will with the Probate Service (England and Wales).
For a small and one off fee of £20.00, your Will can be stored at the Principal Probate Registry in London. The process of placing your Will with their storage facility for safekeeping is simple and reliable, even if you live outside of London. You can find further information on how to do this here.
There are some banks that offer a Will storage service. It is strongly advised, if you are considering using this service, to conduct extensive research into the banks compliance procedures when needing access to your Will; both for yourself and your executors.
Be cautious of storing in a safety deposit box because such boxes at banks are not accessible to people until and executor has been named and probate has been granted. This cant be granted until it is certain who the executor in the Will is and evidence provided to the Registry.
There is no point in storing your Will in any type of safe or locked location where your executors will not be able to retrieve it when the time comes, since the whole crux of your Will is that you want executors to have access to your wishes when you are no longer here.