I recently sat down with a client to execute their newly drafted will. After I finished explaining the provisions of the will, the client asked a very common question:
Where should I keep the signed will?
While it is ultimately up to the client to decide where to keep their will, we recommend that clients allow us to keep their signed will in our secure storage facilities. There are a number of reasons why allowing your lawyer to store your will is a good idea.
Firstly, lawyers’ offices have systems in place to ensure that only the proper persons can access your will before your death. Lawyers’ offices can ensure that your family members do not access your will until your death, so your privacy and the integrity of your will are protected.
Secondly, most lawyers’ offices have excellent storage facilities and protocols, ensuring that your will is not mislaid or accidentally destroyed. Storing your will at home always carries the risk that it could be destroyed; for example, by a house fire or a flood. If you then die before a replacement will can be signed, your estate trustees will have to go through the difficult process of proving that you did not intend to revoke the will when it was destroyed. Further, your estate trustee may have a difficult time accessing your will upon your death if it is stored in a home safe or vault.
While it is possible to store your will in a safety deposit box at your bank, you must similarly be careful to ensure that your estate trustee will be able to access the box after your death. You should check with your bank as to the documentation that will be required of your estate trustee.