Storing your will

Making a will is a crucial part of protecting one's estate and ensuring that assets are divided amongst beneficiaries as intended. But keeping a will safe is as important as making sure it is written effectively. If a will is lost or damaged, the executors may not be able to distribute assets according to the wishes of the deceased and may have to revert to the rules of intestacy.

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What are the best ways to store a will?

Solicitors

If a solicitor has written a will, they will normally be able to store the original; this is generally part of their will writing package, although it is worth checking if storage involves an additional fee. DIY wills (eg the one provided by Rocket Lawyer) can also be stored by a solicitor, but this will normally incur a fee.

Will writing services

There are various companies offering will creation services (eg Co-op and Trust Inheritance) which additionally provide storage facilities. But unlike solicitors, will writing services are not all regulated, so it is important to keep a backup copy just in case.

Probate Service

In England and Wales, wills can be stored with the Probate Service for a one-off fee of £20. This is a formal process which requires a form to be submitted at a regional probate registry; alternatively it can be sent by post using a safe custody envelope pack. Any changes to a will also need to be submitted to the Probate Service via a codicil. See form PA7 for further information.

Banks

Some banks offer will writing and storage services. However, wills stored in a bank should be accessible to executors (ie safety deposit boxes are generally not suitable - see below).

Keep it yourself

This is the cheapest and easiest solution - but it's also the most risky. If storing a will at home, make sure the location is secure and known to executors.

Where should you not store a will?

As a general rule, wills should not be stored in bank safety deposit boxes; these will not normally be accessible to executors until probate has been granted and probate cannot be granted until the will has been obtained.

Similarly, any home based safes or locked locations should be accessible to executors.

What should you bear in mind when storing your will?

  • It is vital that your executor knows where your will is and how to retrieve it.
  • Precautions should be taken against physical damage to the will (eg from fire or flooding damage).
  • Consider registering your will with the National Will Register - this ensures that its existence and location is recorded so that executors and other relevant parties are able to find it.
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