While having a Last Will and Testament is extremely important, if anything happened to your Will, or if your executor cannot find it, you may as well not have one.
The storage of your Will is just as important as the signing of one. You should make sure that your Will is stored in a safe place, and in a place that it can be easily located on your demise.
Once you have decided where you are storing your original Will, it is advisable to let your executor know where it is so that it is easily found on your death.
Should I store my Will in a safety deposit box at my bank?
It is not advisable to store your Will in a safety deposit box at a bank. On your death, the bank will generally require a certified copy of your original Will to confirm who is named as your executor before they are able to grant your executor access to your safety deposit box. This creates a problem if the Will that needs to be sighted is in your safety deposit box, as the box cannot be opened without the Will, and the Will cannot be obtained without the box being opened.
Can I just store my Will in a safe place at my home?
While you can store your Will anywhere you like, it is not recommended that you store your Will at your home. Storing your Will at home always comes with the risk that it could be lost, damaged or misplaced. Or it may never be found by your executor – it is very important that your Will can be found promptly on your demise.
Two estate matters that come to mind for me personally when thinking about Wills being stored at home and the risks associated with that are:-
a.) I had a client who stored her Will at her home, in her small safe. Only days before she passed away she was robbed……guess what was stolen? That’s right, her safe.
This in turn meant that her original Will had also been stolen. While she had been wise enough to provide a fully signed copy of her Will to her executor, the original was nonetheless missing. This resulted in legal expenses being incurred by the estate that would have been avoided had the Will been stored in a safer place.
b.) I administered an estate where the deceased had sadly passed away in a house fire. You don’t have to be Einstein to guess what else perished in that house fire……his original Will.
Safe to say, storing Wills at home, even in the safest of places, is still a risk.
Should I store my Will in a security packet at my Solicitors office?
Storing a Will at your Solicitors office is generally your safest option.
If a Solicitor writes your Will, they will usually store the original Will free of charge and will provide you with a copy. At McNamara Law we are also happy to store Wills that our firm did not prepare, still at no charge to you.
Solicitors should have facilities in place to ensure that your original Will is kept safe at all times. At McNamara Law we have a very large safe where all Wills are stored on behalf of our clients. Our safe is also fire resistant to prevent damage to your Will in the event of a fire.
There are also very strict rules with respect to original Wills. For example, you should NEVER attach other documents to the Will with staples, paperclips or anything else. This can raise questions about whether part of the Will is missing. Solicitors are aware of all the rules that come with storage of Wills and therefore are the most practical option when it comes to choosing where to store your Will.