Storing your will where others can find it
If anything happens to your will, or if your executor doesn’t know where to find it, you might as well not have written one. You need to decide how to look after your will, then let your executor know where it is.
Where not to keep 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.
Tell your executor 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.
Ways of storing a will
There isn’t any particular place that the law says you must deposit your will. 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 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 may mean you have to pay extra.
2. Let a will writing service store it
If you use a will writing service they will often store it for you for an extra charge.
- Pros: Can cost less than using a solicitor – but always check the fee before you commit.
- Cons: You may be less protected if something goes wrong – ask what would happen if the will were damaged or lost, or if the service went out of business. Always ask to keep a copy yourself.
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, at a flat fee of £20.
- Cons: Only you can take the will back while you’re still alive by submitting the right form – for example, you can’t 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 – just make sure your executor knows where it is.
- Pros: Free.
- Cons: Risky, as the will may be thrown away or damaged accidentally.
IMPORTANT: Never attach other documents to the will with staples, paperclips or anything else. They leave a mark on the will, raising questions about whether the will is missing a part or an amendment.
This makes things more difficult for your executor, which can be costly and time consuming. For example, they may contact one of the witnesses to attest whether the document is the one they witnessed being signed.