Where Should I Keep my Will?
It may seem like a very simple question to ask, however where your Will is stored is something that you have to consider carefully to ensure that in your the event of your death your wishes are fulfilled.
The most important point to consider is that your representatives (family, solicitor or executor) can access you Will easily and know where it is stored, for example if you become unable to communicate due to illness or injury and your wishes for end of life care are included, or in the event that you pass away suddenly.
Storing your Will at home
Storing your Will at home is obviously free and means that your Will is in your possession. However, the storage of your Will in your home is important. It is advisable that you store your Will in a locked safe, which is both fire-proof and watertight in the event of flooding. This ensures that your Will is not damaged and as such made invalid. If you do have a safe, you need to clearly tell your representatives the combination code or give them a key to access the safe if needed. Furthermore, you may consider an additional storage place for a copy of your Will in case the key is lost, the safe malfunctions or even stolen from your home (this means you are covering all of the worst case scenarios).
Storing your Will with the Probate Service
In England and Wales you can deposit your Will with the Probate Service, for a fee of £20. The Probate Service is the branch of the court service which deals with probate applications. You can personally deposit your Will at any of the district probate registries, or if you complete the additional paperwork you can send it by post.
Wills stored by the Probate Service are securely stored at the Principal Probate Registry in London. You can retrieve your Will for free during your lifetime (by completing a form) for example to make amendments etc, or your personal representatives can do so once you have died.
Storing your Will with a solicitor
If you pay for the service to write a Will through a solicitors’ firm, then they usually will store your Will securely for you. They may also store additional Wills and documents they didn’t write for an additional fee. You must ensure that your representatives are aware of the solicitors’ firm that your Will is stored at.
Solicitors legally must have personal indemnity insurance, so that in the event of your Will being lost or damaged through the fault of the firm, your representatives and estate can claim back compensation. Furthermore, all solicitors’ firms are regulated by the Solicitor Regulation Authority, meaning that if the firm stops trading or is taken over by another firm, then your Will will be securely transferred to a different firm and you and your representatives will be notified.
Storing your Will with a Will writer
Many will writers, such as ourselves at Glamorgan Legacy Ltd, will securely store your Will for you as part of your service if needed. We ensure your Will is securely stored with The National Will Archive. We will also help you to store additional documents if required. We are also covered with professional indemnity insurance in the same way as solicitors’ firms and members of the Society of Will Writers, which regulates our processes.
However, we do advise that you check the procedures and insurances of the Will writer that you do choose to use, as Will writers are not legally required to be as regulated as solicitors.
Storing your Will with your Bank
Many banks offer a Will storage service and will charge a fee for this. It is unwise, however, to store your will in a safety deposit box at your bank as the box will not be accessible until probate has been granted, and probate cannot be granted without producing the original Will.
Storing your Will electronically
You can store your Will electronically and create digital copies through a service such as UK Will Registry Office, which will store it for a fee. When your Will is accessed by your representatives or estate after your death, then it will be deleted from the database. However, there is a fee to access your Will and if you want to make amendments then you will have to pay fees to store your amended Will.