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26/08/2021

Where should you store your will?

Last will and testament through a magnifying glass

Your will is one of the most important documents you will ever write. Once in place, you need to make sure you keep it in a safe place where your executors can find it when they need it. So you should store it very carefully.

If your will is damaged or if your executors can’t find it after your death, then your wishes might not be followed and the people that you want to inherit your possessions and money might not do so.

The law doesn’t say where you must deposit or store your will, but some places are better than others. This article takes you through the options open to you. Wherever you decide to keep it, tell your executors where it is so that they can find it quickly after your death.

We have set out some common options below:

Storing in a safe deposit box – You may have a safe deposit box with your local bank to store your important papers and valuable items. It may seem a good idea to store your will in your safe deposit box but it is important to ensure that your executors will be able to access the will before the Grant of Probate is issued. Banks do not allow access to a deceased person’s safe deposit box until they have received the Grant of Probate showing the authority of the executors to have access. For this reason, having your will stored in a safety deposit box is not recommended.

Storing your will at home – You could store your will at home in the likes of a locked safe.  This option does not cost anything and may give you peace of mind but this leaves it vulnerable to accidental damage (fire, damp, mould and spillages are fairly common) and the risk that it could be misplaced, stolen, or inadvertently destroyed. If you choose to store your will in your house, don’t use paperclips, staples, or anything else that leaves a mark to avoid mistakenly suggesting that sections or amendments could be missing.

Storing your will with the Probate Service – For a fee of £20, you can deposit your will with the Probate Service, the branch of HM Courts & Tribunals Service  which deals with probate applications. You can deposit your will in person at any of the district probate registries, or send it by post, accompanied by a completed form. The will is then stored at the Principal Probate Registry in London. You can retrieve your will yourself during your lifetime (by completing a form), or your Executors can do so once you have died. There is no fee for retrieving a will.

Storing your will with Thursfields – Thursfields, like most solicitors, will store a will which we have prepared for our clients free of charge, we also store certain wills which we have not prepared, for example, wills dealing with assets in other jurisdictions outside England and Wales. All solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, if a regulated firm ceases to trade or merges with another firm, all wills stored with that firm will be transferred to another regulated firm and so your will remains secure. Solicitors have professional indemnity insurance, and so if your will is lost or damaged due to the firm’s fault, your estate should be compensated.

Should I register my will? The National Will Register, run by Certainty, keeps records of the whereabouts of nearly seven million wills, making it easier for people to locate the latest will when they pass away. Although it is not compulsory to register wills, it is possible to register your will voluntarily, and Thursfields will do this on your behalf as part of the cost of preparing your will. It is possible to register existing wills with Certainty at a small cost.

But what if your will gets lost? Although it is possible to prove a copy of a will if the original cannot be found, having easy access to the original is always preferable to avoid delay and additional cost within the probate process.

Wherever you choose to store your will, it is important to ensure that it is secure and that your executors can find it easily when you pass away. If you have any queries about storing your will or would like to know more about will registration please contact us on 0345 20 73 72 8 or email wills@thursfields.co.uk  

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