Where should I store my will?

Storing your will securely where others can find it is the important final step in the will making process. But where is the best place to store a will? Jennifer Russell of Wright Hassall LLP looks at the available options.

Storing a Will Best Place

Why is storing your will securely where others can find it important?

It was recently reported that Lloyds Bank had discovered around 9,000 original wills of deceased customers which were held as part of the bank's 'safe custody' service. The bank estimated that hundreds of estates will have been incorrectly distributed, as the deceased's personal representatives (eg executors) were not aware of the existence of the deceased's last will, for which it is offering compensation.

This highlights the importance of ensuring that wills are stored securely but also that they can be found easily once the person who made the will passes away. 

Where can I store a will?

It is important to ensure that the personal representatives will be able to access the will before probate is granted. Banks may not release a will stored in a safety deposit box before probate is granted, for example, and so this option is not recommended.

But where can you store it? Here are some of your best options:

  • Keeping your will at home

You could of course store your will at home in the likes of a locked safe. This option does not cost anything and may give you peace of mind. However, there is always the risk that it could be misplaced, stolen or damaged.

  • Lodging your will with the Probate Service

For a fee of £20, in England and Wales you can deposit your will with the Probate Service, the branch of the court service which deals with probate applications. You can deposit your will in person at any of the district probate registries, or send it by post, accompanied by a completed form. The will is then stored at the Principal Probate Registry in London. You can retrieve your will yourself during your lifetime (by completing a form), or your personal representatives can do so once you have died. There is no fee for retrieving a will.

  • Storing your will with a solicitor

Solicitors will often store a will which they prepare free of charge and may also store wills which they have not prepared. As solicitors' firms are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, if the firm ceases to trade or merges with another firm, all wills stored with that firm will be transferred to another regulated firm and so your will remains secure. Solicitors must also have professional indemnity insurance, and so if your will is lost or damaged due to the firm's fault, your estate should be compensated.

  • Keeping your will with a will writer

If a will writer prepares your will, the firm may also store it for you, often for a fee. However, as will writers are not subject to the same level of regulation as solicitors' firms, you should check what procedures and insurance is in place in the event of the firm going out of business or if there is a problem with your will.

  • Registering your will

Although it is not compulsory to register wills in the UK, it is possible to register your will voluntarily, and many firms will do this on your behalf as part of the cost of preparing your will. For example, the National Will Register keeps records of the whereabouts of nearly seven million wills, making it easier for the people entitled to see a copy of your will (ie your personal representatives) to locate the latest will when you pass away.

Who should keep the original will?

Although it is possible to prove a copy of a will if the original cannot be found, having easy access to the original is always preferable to avoid delay and additional cost within the probate process. Wherever you choose to store your will, it is important to ensure that it is secure and that your personal representatives can find it easily when you pass away.

About the author

Jennifer Russell is an Associate Solicitor in the wills, trusts and tax team at Wright Hassall LLP. She advises on estate planning, including the use of wills and trusts.

See also

Place a Deceased Estates notice

Will the UK introduce an Electronic Wills Act?

Online probate service expanded in national trial

Find out more

Applying for probate (Gov)

How to deposit a will with the Probate Service (Gov)

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