How you store your will is as important as making a will because unless your will is found, it may not be possible to prove that you made a will. Not only is it important to store your will safely, but it is also important that your executors know where it is stored. Many intestate estates (where there is no will) are due to the wills never being found. Be sure to let your executors know where it is kept and how to get it.
So where can you store your will?
In the UK there are many options because there is no compulsory central registry as in some countries. Here are some of the possibilities. How you will store your will usually depends on who makes it for you. If you make it yourself, you should pay for dedicated will storage so that it is kept in a safe place.
If you are storing your will yourself, you should make sure the storage place is both waterproof and fireproof and that your executors know the location. If it is in a locked safe, make sure someone has the details for getting into the safe to retrieve the will when the time comes. This is the least advisable option and you should really consider storing it at a different location.
Solicitors’ firms will usually store your will for free if they make your will for you or if you are a client. Most of the firms will store the wills at their own premises or their archives. Ask the firm to send you a certified copy of the will. The certified copy can be used for probate if for any reason the original will goes missing and is never found.
Will writing services
Will writing firms will also usually offer to store your will but most likely for a small fee. Some of them will store your will on their site. Some of them will use the National Will Storage Service (see below) to store your will. As with solicitor firms, you should ask for a certified copy of your will and ask them to let you know where exactly your will is being stored.
A bank safety deposit box is not the best place to store your will, because your executors need your will to be able to apply for the grant of probate. The bank might not release the contents of the safe until your executors get the grant of probate, which they can’t do without the will. This will make things extremely difficult for your executors.
The Probate Service (England and Wales)
Very few people are aware that there is a government service for the storage of wills. It is difficult to understand why it isn’t made mandatory so that there is then one single central repository for wills. There appears to be no intention to make it mandatory. The Probate Service will store your will for you. The service costs £20. You can download the leaflet that tells you how to about the service and how to access it.
The National Will Safe Document Storage
This is a private document storage service that will store your wills and other original documents for a fee. The wills are kept in waterproof wallets in a specialist document archive facility. Their website address is www.nationalwillsafe.co.uk.
Certainty the National Will Register is a will registration service. You do not send your will to them. You just fill in the form to register your will so that the location of the original is noted. Your executors can do a Will Search to find out if your will is registered with them. They say that over 8 million wills are currently registered with them. Many solicitors and will writers store your will but also register it on Certainty so that if the executor is searching for it, they will be able to find out from Certainty where it is. Their website address is www.nationalwillregister.co.uk.
Contact us if you would like some advice about storing your will or if you would like us to arrange for it to be stored or to get it registered with Certainty.