Once your Will has been created and you have dated and signed it in front of two independent witnesses (who are not beneficiaries of your Will) you need to decide where to store it. Please remember that there can only be one original final Will. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, a copy of your original final Will won’t be accepted by the Court as a valid Will.
If you decide to store your Will at home and it cannot be found when you die, the law will assume that you have intentionally destroyed it. Therefore, even if your executors have a copy the Court will usually not accept the copy.
Having gone to the trouble of creating a final Will we recommend using a professional storage facility. There are a number of options. Here at Casey & Associates we use fire resistant safes for Will storage. More of our clients are now asking us to store their Wills for them. Any Wills sent to us for storage are checked on arrival to ensure the dating and signing procedure appears to have been carried out correctly. Just before a Will is placed into store, we scan it and then post or email a copy to our client. That means our client can always refer to a copy of their latest Will if ever they need to.
It is really important that you advise your executors where you are storing your Wills and that you advise them if you ever update your Will. For example, you do not want your executors distributing your estate according to a particular Will if there is a later Will in existence.
We track updated Wills for our clients and know how many “versions” have been created over the years and so we will always know which is the latest one we created. If we are storing the final Will it can be quickly located when needed.
We do charge to store a Will, but the charge is insignificant compared to the distress and potential financial cost of trying to resolve the situation when a home stored Will cannot be found. Please remember that, effectively, a lost Will means no Will and so you will be deemed to have died intestate and, therefore, your estate may well not be distributed in the manner you intended.
Whatever your circumstances it is best to get professional advice. If you would like to meet one of our Consultants and discuss any of the issues raised in this article or any other Estate Planning topic, please telephone 01732 868190 or click here.