Storing Your Will
A Last Will and Testament is a private and confidential document. It is extremely important that your original Will must be kept in a safe and secure location after it has been signed and witnessed. At the time of your passing your nominated executor is going to need the original Will in order to carry out your wishes.
In order for your Will to take effect after your death, your executor will need the original copy in the court of law to apply for a grant of probate to validate your Will and allow them to take responsibility for the estate and assets.
Without the original copy, the estate administration could potentially be delayed and at additional legal costs until the matter is resolved. In some circumstances, a copy of the misplaced original will be approved by the courts, but again, this could potentially delay the process and have legal fees attached.
The best way to avoid this is to secure your document and make sure the required person/people are aware of the location of said document and will have access to it at the time of your passing.
In order for your Will to be legally valid it is important that at the time of creating your document you must be of sound mind in order to fully understand and comprehend your intentions for your Will.
Common Places to Store Your Will
Many people choose to store theirs Wills at home along with other personal documents ie birth certificates, passports, bank details etc in a filing cabinet or ideally a fireproof safe that is able to be locked and is protected from the elements.
Please be mindful when storing your will to have it clearly labelled in an envelope, so it is easy to identify when the time comes. Also keep in mind your executor will require access to your Will, so make sure to tell the appropriate people where and how they can locate your Will.
Whilst many people commonly give a copy of their will to their executor, some people choose to directly leave the original copy of their Will with the Executor they have appointed for their estate.
Please keep in mind in this case that you are giving them the responsibility of keeping it safe, undamaged, tampered with or lost.
If you had a lawyer/law firm create your will, some firms may offer storage facilities they have available to store their clients Wills and other testamentary documents. As there can strict requirements in order for them to store your Wills not all legal practices will be able to offer this.
When making copies of your Will we do recommend storing a copy electronically via the cloud, USB or hard drive making sure that the file is protected with a password in order to open. These are a great way to store a copy as it protects it from damage or getting lost. However, this is only a good method of storage for a copy and not your original signed Will.
Safe Deposit Boxes
Some Banks organisations and private storage services have safe deposit boxes which allow their customers to store and secure important documents but will incur a fee for doing so.
However, keep in mind that storing your will in a safe deposit box may become quite difficult for your executor or family to gain access too at the time of your passing when they require your Will.
Scanning copies of your original Will electronically is always a good back up in case the original is lost or damaged in anyway. You should not remove any staples or binding from the original Will when you are copying it as it might make it look like the Will was tampered with, which could make it more difficult or expensive to be admitted to Probate.
Many people also choose to give scanned copies to the executor of the Will and or trusted relatives or friends.
In some cases, Public Trustees may allow a person to use their storage services even when you have not used their assistance to complete your Will. Each State and Territory differ when it comes to free or charging a fee for the storage of your document.
Ailira can help you easily and cheaply create a Will. You can book a time to have an Ailira Assistant guide you through the process