A Will is a very important document. So where should you keep it? Obviously it must be kept in a safe place, but not so safe that others would not be able to find it in the future. It is paramount that you tell your executor(s) where your Will is kept as the original Will is required to obtain a Grant of Probate. If you verbally tell them, they might forget; you could write it down for them or show them the exact location (if stored in a box at home etc.)
Once you have your Will, it is important to keep it separate to any other important documents you may have. DO NOT attach anything else to the Will with a stapler (or paperclip or the ilk), as it will leave marks on the document. This can then cause a problem at the Probate Registry as it indicates that the Will may have been tampered with, that there is something missing from the document, or that it is incomplete. This could cause a delay with ascertaining if the Will is genuine and complete. Sometimes the Probate Registry will ask for sworn statements or affidavits from the persons who were witnesses to the Will.
But where you decide to keep your Will is up to you.
Where should I keep my Will?
Some people decide to keep it at home in a safe place like a filing cabinet or a box. Others prefer to keep it with a solicitor or an accountant.
There is a service known as Certainty which is a national Will register and Will Search service.The contents of the Will are not stored on the database; what is noted is a record of who has made the Will and where it is stored. If your Executor(s) were not aware of where your Will was held, they can produce a valid death certificate to Certainty for a search to be carried out (which requires a fee) who in turn search their database and contact Solicitors in the relevant geographical area to see if they hold a Will. As part of our service at Birchall Blackburn Law we offer free registration with Certainty.
If you live in England or Wales then you are able to keep your Will at the Principal Registry of the Family Division of the High Court, a District Registry or at a Probate Sub-Registry. They will keep it safe for you. If you wish to deposit your Will with one of these organisations for safe keeping, then you will need to visit the District Registry or Probate Sub-Registry or you can write to:
The Probate Department
The Principal Registry of the Family Division
First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn
London WC1V 6NP
Tel: 020 7947 6000
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can store your Will at:
The Probate Office
Royal Courts of Justice
Belfast BT1 3JF
Tel: 028 9072 4678
Where shouldn’t I keep my Will?
Don’t keep your Will in a safety deposit box at a bank. This is because after death, the bank is unable to open the safety deposit box until a Grant of Representation has been obtained, which is impossible to do without the Will!
For more information on Wills, please visit our pages on wills here.
Or speak to one of our specialist legal team on 0800 614 722.