Storing your Will

Jessica Rowbotham Jessica Rowbotham 22 September 2020

The original versions of legal documents such as Wills and Powers of Attorney are the only legally binding versions.

It is important to keep these documents safe, but also to let your executor know where they are, in the event of your death.

Solicitor Jessica Rowbotham from Wake Smith’s private client team looks at the safest place.

Jessica said: “An original Will is a very important document and must be kept safely.

“When applying for probate (permission from the court for your executors to administer your estate on your death), the Probate Registry require your original Will.  Scans, photocopies and computer records are not sufficient. In limited circumstances, the Probate Registry may accept a copy if submitted with further evidence, but this can be costly and time-consuming.

“It is therefore very important to decide how to store your Will, and more important still to let your executors know where it is stored.

“There isn’t any particular place that the law says you must keep your Will, but it should be in a safe place, which is easily accessible when the document is needed.

“We never recommend that original copies are kept at home. If you have a fire, flood or burglary, you risk losing your Will, or it might be thrown away or damaged accidentally.

“If your original Will is lost, or if your executor doesn’t know where to find it, then it will be very difficult to prove it ever existed and the people you wish to benefit on your death may not. If your Will is damaged, it may become unreadable, or the Probate Registry may decide the damage to the Will shows intention for it to be revoked.”

When you make a Will with Wake Smith, the firm keeps the original copy in a safe storage system.

Jessica added: “When we write your Will, we will store the original free of charge and give you a copy for your records.

“Storing your Will in our safe storage system offers you peace of mind about the security of this important document, and confidence it will not get damaged or lost. It is then much easier to review your Will on a regular basis and update your Will with us.

 “The Will has to be officially lodged with them and official requests made to take it out again. Only you can request the Will back while you’re still alive, and your executors can request the will on your death.

“You should never keep a Will in a bank’s safety deposit box. When you die, banks ordinarily do not open safety deposit boxes until the executor is granted probate – and probate can’t be granted without the Will. Always make sure that your Will can be accessed without the need for probate.”

“A final consideration is never to attach other documents to the Will with staples, paperclips or anything else. They leave a mark on the Will, and can raise questions about whether the Will is missing a part or whether an amendment has been made to it. This can cause issues for your executor at an already difficult time.”

For more information on Wills and to book an appointment contact Jessica at [email protected] 

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