How will my family know where my Will is when I die?

Making a Will, whether you use our Wills Online service, or get a Will Associates’ registered Will writer to visit your home and write one for you, is just the first step towards making sure your wishes are honoured when you die. Unless your family knows where your Will is, your intentions may never come to pass. In this post we explore Will storage choices and explain how to let those that need to know, know where your Will is stored …

 

Where will you store your Will?

When you take out an Active Wills’ Will online, you are given the option to store it in our secure facility for a one off fee of £29.00. Until the end of May, we are offering this service for free.


If you take this option – as well as a copy to keep in your files, we send a certificate with the registration number on it and instructions to share this with your executor.  We are in the process of developing a credit card style certificate for our clients to keep in their wallets too, an obvious place for family members to search. 


We ask you to make sure you let your executor know in writing. Telling the executor may not be enough. Even if they have a great memory and are totally trustworthy, your instructions need to be recorded and traceable, just in case they are not available when the time comes, or in case anyone questions the authenticity of your Will and their right to execute. This is advice worth following, regardless of where you store you Will.

 

You do not have to store your Will with us. There are many other options, which we will run through below. First though, please heed the golden rule about where not to store your Will.


Where not to store your Will

 

Never keep your Will in a bank safety deposit box.

 

When someone dies, the bank can’t open the deposit box until the executor gets probate (permission from the court to administer your affairs) – and probate can’t be granted without the Will.

 

Always make sure that your Will can be accessed without probate.

 

So, where can you store your Will?

 

The media is often awash with stories of Wills being contested and, although there is talk of a National Register of Wills to ensure all Last Wills and Testaments are registered as such, the law, currently, does not say you must deposit your Will in any such register.

 

Active Wills and our parent company, The Will Associates, do have a register. We are working on making it possible for people to search it online to find out if a relative’s Will is stored with us. We are also in the process of helping My Estate Planning Expert to research and publish details of all such registers in the UK and Wales to help people locate the Wills of family members until such a National Register materialises.

 

In the meantime, here are the four key choices you have for storing a Will and a summary of the pros and cons for each.

 

Choose the option that’s safest and most appropriate for you.

 

1. Leave it with a solicitor

 

If a solicitor writes your will, they will usually store the original free of charge and give you a copy – but ask them if this is included as part of the price to make sure.

 

Most solicitors will also store a Will they didn’t write, but there will probably be a fee.

 

  • Pros: Solicitors are regulated so if the Will is lost or damaged you have recourse to make things right.
  • Cons: If the solicitor who is storing it didn’t write your Will then this might mean you have to pay extra.

2. Let a Will writing service, such as Active Wills to store it

 

If you use a Will writing service they will often store it for you for an extra charge. Currently we are offering this service, worth £29, for free.

 

  • Pros: Can cost less than using a solicitor – but always check the fee before you commit.
  • Cons: With some Will writing services, you might be less protected if something goes wrong as they are not regulated. So ask what would happen if the Will were damaged or lost, or if the service went out of business. Active Wills is covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance and works to the same code of conduct as solicitors.

3. Lodge it with the Probate Service (England and Wales)

 

The Probate Service will store your Will for you – you have to lodge it with them officially, and make official requests to take it out again.

 

  • Pros: There is a flat fee of £20.
  • Cons: You are the only one who can take the Will back while you’re still alive by submitting the right form. This takes time and if you want to make changes to it in an emergency, it may not be possible.  You can’t even ask a solicitor to get it for you.

 

There’s more information about storing your will with the Probate Service on the HM Courts and Tribunal Service website.

To find your local Probate Service in your area to make an application to store your Will, use the GOV.UK website ‘find the right court or tribunal’ tool.

4. Keep your Will yourself

 

You can keep your Will with your other documents, in a safe, or anywhere else you like. In fact, we recommend keeping a copy even if you store yours with us so that you have one at hand to refer to should something happen to you or a loved one (illness, death or a family divorce for example) that makes you think you need to reconsider your Will. 

 

As with any choice, be sure to make sure your executor knows where it is.


  • Pros: Free.
  • Cons: Risky, as the Will might be thrown away, damaged accidentally or even tampered with intentionally.

 

So, there you have it, how to let your family members know where your Will is kept and the pros and cons of the possible storage choices.

 

Where will you store your Will?