Now that your Wills have been signed, it is important they be stored securely. Wherever you choose to store your Wills, it is essential that you store them in a safe place and make your Executors aware of where the documents are and how they can be accessed.
If you choose to keep your Will at home, there is no guarantee that it will be protected from fire, theft, flooding or pests. Any marking of the Will can draw its validity into question. The majority of Wills that are destroyed or damaged at home are done so at the hands of the owner whether or not through a simple accident, but it happens with surprising frequency. If you do decide to store your Wills at home you will need to tell someone you trust where you have put them, so that they can be found when you die. This is very important, because if the original, signed Will were not found, your Estate would normally be treated as if you had died intestate, and your assets might not be distributed as you would have wished.
Relying on others to remember the location of you Will is not wise. Individuals do forget and become confused, particularly at distressing times, so it is sensible to leave a note of their location with your important papers. If you decide to store them at home, you should really get a fireproof safe.
If you decide on a Bank in which to rent a safe deposit box, you need to find out how the bank will control the box after your death. Some banks will not allow anyone except a court-appointed administrator to open the box to retrieve the Will. This policy may cause difficulty and delay in settling your Estate. Other banks allow a family member to remove your Will in the presence of bank officials. You should make sure the Executor named in your Will has access to your safe deposit box after your death.
The reason we store our client’s Wills with Kings Court is that they have a particularly secure underground World War II bunker currently with over 100,000 Wills stored in it, in addition to which the company’s sole business is Probate. In addition to providing a storage certificate with four pop-out cards to give to Executors once the Will is stored, anyone who has a Will stored with them can contact them for a level of free probate advice when the time comes.
Whatever you finally decide, unless you pass your Wills to us for safe keeping, you are responsible for the safe keeping of your Wills. If you hold on to your Wills, you might also want to consider storing details of the location of your Wills on a central database at http://www.willdata.info/
Willdata.info was founded in 2003 as a National Will Registration and Search Facility for tracking down the location of Wills and is considered as the most comprehensive UK National Will Register, although there is no official national Will database. Willdata hold registrations for Wills dating back to the early 1900’s and registering the location of your Will on their database is completely free.