Once a will has been drawn up and you have made sure it is valid by being signed, dated and witnessed, it should be kept somewhere safe. It not only should be somewhere safe, but also somewhere where it will not be damaged, as, if it is harmed in any way, this could lead to challenges made in court and legal difficulties with the administration of the estate. Of course if the document is lost altogether, there will be no formal record of the deceased person’s wishes so storage is an important factor to think about once you have made a will.
It is up to you where you keep the will. You can keep it at home, at a bank, at the firm of solicitors who helped you make up the will. It is entirely up to you how you intend to store the will once it has been written and signed.
- Keeping the will at home
It will have to be accessible and the testator (the person making the will) will have to inform someone of exactly where it is so that it can be easily found when the person dies. Of course this is vital, because if they do not tell somebody or if the will cannot be found then the estate will be treated as if the person has died intestate and therefore the assets will not be distributed according to their wishes. It is also worth remembering that if the will is stored at home there is no guarantee that it will be protected from fire, theft, flooding or other damage.
- At the Principal Probate Registry
It is also possible to store the will and any codicils with the High Court in London and have it stored at the Principal Probate Registry, though there is a charge for storing the will with the High Court.
- With a solicitor
This is ideal if you want the solicitor to be the executor and most law firms offer fireproof storage of a will for a fee. Many prefer to store their will with the principal registry office as solicitors can occasionally move offices or stop trading and this can make the will difficult to locate when it is needed.
- At a bank
Some banks offer storage facilities for a fee which is usually around £10 to £25 a year. Again, it would be necessary for the person making the will to inform somebody of where the will is to be kept. This is because people often have more than one bank account and therefore there could be some confusion after the person has died, as to where the will actually is.
- If it cannot be found
It is worth noting what will happen if the will cannot be found. If a person dies without making a will they are presumed to have died intestate. However, these rules also apply in situations where a will has been made but cannot be located. If it cannot be found then the presumption is that the will was never made in the first place and the danger is, of course, that the people you wanted to benefit from the estate will not do so.
So, the advice is always to make a will, and also to tell someone of where it is stored, whether that be in your home or somewhere else.