National Will Archive

How to store your Will safely

You’ve made or updated your Will. That’s great news!   Now you can relax and be assured that you and your family are protected. But have you given any thought to where to safely store your Will? And other important documents …

It’s important to note that the only Will that can be legally used is the ORIGINAL one.  Some financial institutions will accept a verified copy, but others, and crucially the Probate Service, will only accept the original one.  So you should consider carefully where you store your Will and how easily it can be accessed.

I often get calls from family members who knew that their relative made a Will but just can’t find it!  If your Executors or family can’t find your Will quickly and easily, it could lead to you being deemed to have died “intestate”, meaning there was no Will, or no Will could be found.   That can lead to your wishes not being carried out as you would have wanted, and the law deciding who gets what. In some cases, that could mean disputes between family members that can last for years.

So it is really vital to make sure that your Will is stored safely and your Executors know how to access it. And ideally, it should be stored along with your other estate planning documents such as a list of your assets and policies, any letters attached, Lasting Powers of Attorney, life insurance documents or Property Deeds.  That will make the job of your Executors much simpler and easier.

What are the options for storing your Will?

Store your Will yourself 

  • It’s easy, cheap and simple.  But it certainly isn’t risk-free…
  • What would happen in the event of a flood or fire?  Or it could be lost in a house move, burglary  – or even thrown away by mistake.  If you do decide to store it at home, we would suggest that you get a safe, or at lest a fire-proof box.  And make sure your Executors know the code or where the key is!
  • Importantly, you should never make any amendments on your Will (as they won’t be legal and may actually invalidate it). You should never attach any other documents to your Will with paper clips or staples, as these could leave a mark. That could raise a concern that something may be missing from it.

Store your Will with the Probate Service 

  • For a one-off fee of £20 you can send your Will to be stored at the Probate Service for life.  Your Executors will be able to request the Will to be released when the time comes that it is needed
  • If you change your Will, get married, divorced or have children you will need to pay a further £20 to store the new one.. You can’t store other documents with this service – only the Will itself.

Store your Will with a solicitor 

  • If you write your Will with a solicitor they will often offer to store it (but not other documents) for you for free. 
  • One of the risks is that if the solicitor closes, moves or merges with another firm, it can be difficult to find in the future.

Store your Will in the National Will Archive 

  • For a small annual fee, we can store your Will AND all your other important personal documents in the National Will Archive.   We offer this service to you via the Society of Will Writers at their purpose-built storage facility in Lincoln.  Morecambe Bay Wills do all the work for you – collect and send your documents, provide you with a certificate of storage and cards for your Executors.  And we also provide you with a soft or paper copy to keep. You can add documents at any time and release them for only the cost postage.  When you die, your Executors simply contact the National Will Archive, who will release all the documents in their care, free of charge. The annual fee is £15 for a single person, £20 for a couple.

But the most important benefit of this service is that it includes FREE Will updates from Morecambe Bay Wills and Estates Limited.

How will your Executors find your Will?

Make sure you tell them where your Will is! 

Once you’ve made your decision about how to deposit your will for safekeeping, it’s essential to make sure that your executors know where it is and how to get it. Don’t just tell them – write it down.  With some storage solutions, you also get registration cards you can give to your Executors for safe-keeping too.

Get your Will registered on the National Will Register

Many solicitors and Will Writers will register your Will on Certainty, the National Will Register. Certainty is endorsed by the Law Society and holds the details of more than 9 million Wills, and deal with hundreds of queries a day.  Your entry contains your name, date of birth, the date your Will was made, who by and where it was stored.

If your family don’t know if you had a Will, or if your Executors can’t find it, Certainty should be the first place they look! Even if your Will wasn’t registered on Certainty they can also offer a service to put a request nationally to see if it can be found for you.  This could prevent an old Will being used to distribute the estate and can be invaluable in resolving some Will disputes.

At Morecambe Bay Wills and Estates Limited, we register your Will for free on Certainty if you choose to store it in the National Will Archive.  If not, we can register it for you at a cost of £15 per Will, discounted from the Certainty price of £30. 

Where not to store your Will

Never keep your Will in a bank safety deposit box.  The bank will not be able to open the box without a Grant of Probate.  And you can’t get a Grant of Probate without the original Will!

You can find out more about our secure Document Storage solution in our FREE guide – available HERE

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