How to Store Your Will and Keeping it Safe

Ways to store your Will

There is no particular place the law says you have to deposit your will document. You must choose the option that it most appropriate and safest for you.

1. Leave it with your lawyer

If you use a lawyer to write your will, they’ll usually store the original for you free of charge and give you a copy. Make sure you double check, just to make sure. Most lawyers will also store a will they haven’t written, but there will most probably be a fee.

The pro of this option is that attorneys are regulated so if the will is lost or damaged, you will have recourse to make things right. The con is that if this professional didn’t write your original, you could incur an additional fee. 

2. Store it with a will writing service

If you use one of these services, they will often store it for you at an additional charge.

A pro is that this can cost less than using a lawyer, but always check the cost before committing. The con is that you may have less protected should something go wrong. Always ask what would happen in the event of damage or loss, or if the service went out of business. And always keep a copy for yourself.

3. Store the document yourself

You can keep your will along with your other documents in a safe, or anywhere else you like. Just ensure your executor knows its location. 

The pro is that this is totally free of charge. The con is that this is the riskiest of all three options, as it may be lost, thrown away or damaged accidentally. 

Note: It is important to never attach other documents to the will with staples, paperclips or anything such. These leave a mark on the document and will raise questions about whether there is a page missing or an amendment. This will make things more difficult for your executor. 

Safely storing your will document

If something were to happen to your will, or your executor does not know where to find the document, it is pointless having written one. You must decide how to safely look after your will, and then let the executor know where it is.

Places you shouldn’t keep your will

Never store the document in a bank safety deposit box– when you die, the bank cannot open the box until the executor gets permission to administer your affairs. This, however, cannot be granted without the will document.

Do not store the document in a random place around your house. This includes places like at the bottom of your kitchen drawer, under your bed or collecting dust on your bookshelf. Remember that any damage to the document might render it illegible, leaving the law in control of how your estate is distributed.

Places you may consider storing your will

If you plan on using the same attorney or law firm for the remainder of your life, it can be beneficial to have them keep the original copy of your will. Note that an attorney is obligated to keep your will in confidence and may charge little or no fee for this service.

If you choose to store your will in your own home, make sure it is in a fireproof and waterproof safe for obvious reasons. The last thing you want is a disaster ruining the original copy of the document. Storing it in a safe will help ensure it is protected in the event of a home invasion or break-in.

Depending on where you reside, you might want to check if the county clerk can store your will for you. This may be charged at a nominal fee.

Make sure you inform your executor of the whereabouts of your will

Once you have decided how and where to deposit your document for safekeeping, it’s essential to ensure your executors know of its whereabouts and how to access it. Don’t just tell them this information – make sure you write it down. 

​In the event that you decide to move cities or countries, considering relocating your will too. Not doing so can make things difficult for your executor and beneficiaries.​​

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