A Will is a very important document – so where should you keep it? There are plenty of options and no legal requirements as to where you keep your Will. However, some options are better than others.
When deciding where to keep your Will, you need to make sure that your executors will be able to find it in the future, but you should also keep it safe from being discovered and read by anybody else, either during your lifetime or after your death.
An important step in ensuring that your Will is located by the correct people after your death is to tell your executors that they are your executors and also to tell them where your Will is stored, but we don’t recommend providing them with a copy of the Will.
Some popular choices for Will storage are:
- with your solicitor or accountant
- at the Probate Registry
- at the bank
- at home
- with a commercial will storage company
Solicitors and accountants
If you make your Will with a firm of solicitors, they will usually store it for you for free.
At Birchall Blackburn Law we realise the importance of keeping your Will safe and secure and we are happy to provide lifelong Will storage free of charge for all our Will clients. We will provide you with a storage reference number and a photocopy of your Will, so you can easily remind yourself of its contents. As an added benefit, we also offer our clients free registration with Certainty the National Wills Register, which usually costs £30. Certainty’s service is endorsed by The Law Society and ensures your Will can be located by your executors after your death.
The Probate Registry
If you live in England or Wales, you can store your Will at the Probate Registry. The procedure can be completed in person at any Probate Registry, or by post. The Probate Registry charges a one-off fee, currently £20, to deposit a Will. Full details can be found online.
While storage at the bank might be considered as a particularly safe and secure option, this can present your executors with a major unexpected obstacle after your death. Once you have passed away, banks will usually only give access to your safety deposit box when the person requesting it produces a grant of probate, but your executors cannot apply for a grant of probate until they have your Will!
Some people decide to keep their Will at home and store it in what they see as a safe place, for example in a box, a drawer, a filing cabinet, or even under the floorboards – after all, this is free and the Will is always readily at hand. However, the dangers of this far outweigh the convenience. For example, if you have a fire, flood, or burglary, your will could be lost, damaged, or destroyed. It might even be accidentally disposed of by you or your family during a routine clear-out. There is also the danger that it could fall into the wrong hands, or your executors will not be able to find the Will when they need to. For all these reasons, we would never (that’s never ever!) recommend storing your Will at home.
Commercial Will storage companies
Various commercial Will storage companies are available, but this can be a costly option as they will charge an annual fee. They may also charge a fee to retrieve your Will from storage, so you should make sure you read the small print and check all the likely costs before choosing this option.
An important note about earlier Wills
Wherever you choose to store your Will, it is important that you don’t keep old Wills stored in a different place, as this could lead to your executors finding an old Will rather than your most recent one. Some people simply destroy their old Will when they make a new one. For various reasons which we will talk about in another blog, we usually recommend that old Wills are not destroyed, but simply kept with your new Will.
For more information, please visit our Wills & Probate services page or speak to one of our specialist legal team on 0800 614 722.